Emeralds have been gems of fascination in many cultures for over six thousand years. So prized for their value, that carat for carat, a flawless emerald may be 3 times as valuable as a flawless diamond.
Records show that the stone was known and sold in Babylon as early as 4000 BC.Until South America’s rich bounty of emeralds was discovered in the 16th century, Egypt was the primary source. It is believed Cleopatra was an avid collector of emeralds, and historians believe that the ancient Egyptians mined emeralds as early as 3500 BC. The Spanish explorers discovered large emeralds in the possession of the Aztecs and Incas - the Incas actually offered emeralds up to their Gods.
According to Indian mythology, the name emerald was first translated from Sanskrit as ‘marakata,’ meaning ‘the green of growing things.’ The name we know it as now is believed to come from an ancient Persian word, and eventually over time, evolved to ‘Emerald.’
This gem has been mentioned in biblical information about the apocalypse, and has been written by scholars going all the way back in time to Aristotle.
Emerald, the green variety of Beryl, is the most famous and valuable green gemstone. Its beautiful green colour, combined with durability and rarity, makes it one of the most expensive gemstones. Emeralds range in colour from light to dark green. The shade of green is determined by the presence of chromium oxide and vanadium. Deep green is the most desired colour in emeralds. In general the paler the colour of an emerald, the lesser its value. Very pale coloured stones are not called emeralds but rather ‘Green Beryl.’ They are sometimes heat treated, which causes their colour to turn blue and transform into Aquamarine.
Apart from Emeralds, Beryl also has other important gem varieties, including blue Aquamarine, pink Morganite, and yellow Heliodor/Golden Beryl Pure Beryl is white.
Emeralds are notorious for their flaws. Flawless stones are very uncommon, and are noted for their great value. Some actually prefer emeralds with minute flaws over flawless emeralds, as this proves their authenticity. Flaws are often hidden by treating the emeralds with oil or synthetic lubricants, and this is a common practice in the industry.
The availability of high-quality Emerald is limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are performed regularly. emeralds are found in granites, pegmatites, and schists, as well as alluvial deposits. Some emeralds find their way into gravels where the action of the water tumbles and smoothes them so they resemble shiny pebbles. Much smaller quantities of medium-light colour emeralds come from Brazil. Emeralds also come from Austria, India, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt,the USA, Norway, and Pakistan. In the last few decades, increasing quantities of Emeralds have also been found in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. These stones tend to be of a very strong colour, as are the stones from India, Pakistan and the Soviet Union.
Columbian Emeralds are one of the most valued stones on the market, with the best ones from the Chivor and Muzo mines,
Rose cut Emerald Slice Earrings by Lustre Jewellery at SGD 179
Only the finest quality emeralds are clear and flawless. Most have tiny mineral inclusions or fractures, referred to as ‘jardin,’ from the French word meaning ‘garden.’ This refers to the moss or branch like appearance of the flaws. Flawless Emeralds are rare and usually only found in small sizes. There are fewer fine large emeralds in the world than there are diamonds! Most large emeralds have cracks and flaws, or are cloudy in colour. It is common to oil these emeralds to disguise the flaws and enhance the colour. The inclusions are sometimes not visible to the naked eye, especially in high quality stones.
Emeralds are brittle and easily fractured during handling and setting. Though they are classified with a hardness of 9, they scratch easily - but the scratches can be wiped off. Its colour is a symbol of new life and the promise of spring, which is why it is the birthstone of May. A square cut to the Emerald actually emphasises the richness of colour by leading the eye into it rather than deflecting attention away from it.
As far back as there is evidence of Emeralds there has been evidence of their healing powers. Some said emeralds would heal if simply worn, others said gaining help required gazing deeply into the green for a while. In every language, there are reports of the emerald helping eyesight.
The Emerald’s healing powers have been associated with the skeletal system, the flesh and skin, the cardiovascular system, the adrenal glands, the kidneys, liver and intestinal system. The stone is also considered to be very cleansing and prevents infection and diseases.
Emeralds are known to be calming and balancing, promoting creativity and eloquence and restoring faith and hope. They are believed to bring good fortune and are used to kindle kindness and sympathy. They are also used to improve one’s intuition, thereby increasing one’s perception. They bring truthfulness and are symbols of love. Believed by the ancients to empower the owner with foresight into the future, emeralds are a symbol of rebirth.
CARING FOR YOUR EMERALDS
Do not leave your emerald ring on while washing dishes or using soap as an emerald will attract grease and soap. After a while, these substances will accumulate on the bottom of the gemstone, causing it to lose its lively brilliance. Also do not wear your emerald when you might be engaging in physical activity that might scratch the stone. To clean your emerald, use room temperature running water and a soft toothbrush with mild soap like hand soap. Brush repeatedly on the underside of the emerald to remove accumulations of dirt and grease. It should then be rinsed with warm water, and patted dry.
Do not clean an Emerald in ultrasonic cleaners, steam cleaners or acetone. These may cause damage to the stone or the setting. Cleaning should be done no more frequently than is necessary, and never more than several times a year.
Contributor: Anaita Thakkar, Founder of Lustre Jewellery
Helmed by Anaita Thakkar, Lustre Jewellery specialises in handcrafted semi precious jewellery that combines traditional techniques with contemporary design for the modern woman.