Classified as a precious gemstone, emerald is the green variety of the beryl mineral. This captivating green gem forms in the crust of the Earth where its chemical components, silicon, aluminum, beryllium, and oxygen are found. The fact that emeralds are actually remnants of the geological events which have occurred millions of years ago is quite fascinating. Emeralds may also develop in hydrothermal veins, provided that essential elements such as beryllium are present.
Emeralds have a very distinctive green color. The colors of emerald may range from a green with yellow tones to a green with bluish tones. Emeralds owe their stunning color to the trace amounts of chromium in their chemical structures. This chromium content is generally found in Colombian emeralds. Emeralds which do not contain chromium get their color from elements such as vanadium and iron.
Emeralds possess a feature called double refraction, which means that they display two separate color patterns. This fascinating characteristic is one of the traits that make emeralds sought-after.
It is suggested that the name emerald was derived from the Greek word smaragdus, which means green.
Emerald occupies an important place in many mythologies. Almost every culture has associated them with a different phenomenon. The Aztecs called this green gem, Stone of the Earth, and believed that emerald would bring fertility to their land. The ancient Greeks called the gem, the stone of truth and associated emerald with the messenger of gods, Hermes. The Romans linked emerald to the God of Love, Venus.
This elegant green gem was first assumed to be mined in Egypt around 1500 BC. It is said that Cleopatra was one of the biggest admirers of emeralds. Cleopatra had a grand emerald collection and, she was very enthusiastic about it. Egyptians have associated the color green with fertility and rebirth. They would bury their deceased ones with emeralds. Cleopatra and the Egyptians also presumed that emerald could be used to treat eye diseases.
Many argue that Colombia produces the best emeralds. The fact that most of the world’s emerald comes from Colombia supports this argument. Muzo and Chivor districts are the two main emerald mining locations in Colombia. Emeralds from Colombia tend to have fewer and lighter inclusions than ones from other countries such as Brazil. Another country where emerald is mined is Zambia. Zambian emeralds generally have a bluish hue, which is a property not found in neither Brazilian nor Colombian emeralds.
Emeralds have a hazy appearance due to the liquid or gas bubbles, inherent fractures and crystals trapped inside. These inclusions are considered to be an effective method for distinguishing between genuine and synthetic emeralds. Synthetic emeralds transmit more light compared to genuine emeralds when lit with an ultraviolet light. These inclusions do not affect the value of emeralds considerably provided that they are not very distracting.
Emeralds may come in many different sizes, there are some of them that weigh hundreds, or even thousands of carats which one can see in museums. Some may even say that emerald is a cursed gem due to the enormous sizes they are sometimes found in. The Bahia Emerald is one of the largest emeralds ever encountered. This amazing emerald weighs over 340kgs and was unearthed in the Brazilian state of Bahia. However, there are also emeralds much smaller than a carat.
In contrast to many other gemstones, emeralds are never heat treated. However, in order to improve their color and clarity, they may be treated with oils. Even though this treatment method is very common, the process does not improve the color or clarity of emeralds drastically. If an emerald is heavily included, it will still have heavy inclusions even after the process. Some retailers may use various green dyes to increase the green tone and clarity of emeralds. It is important to highlight that Damalys Diamond never uses this method to improve their emeralds.
Emerald has a hardness rating of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, which makes it a durable enough gemstone to be used in rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. However, it should be taken into account that emerald is softer than its beryl cousins. Even though emeralds do not easily get scratched, they are somewhat prone to chipping. Because of this, the wearer should be careful and take precautions so that it does not get scratched by harder substances or get chipped.
Damalys Diamond does not recommend emeralds to be cleaned with ultrasonic cleaners or steam cleaners. Emeralds should also be kept away from high heat. Damalys Diamond advises emeralds to be gently cleaned with a regular detergent which one would use to clean dishes. The detergent should be applied with a soft toothbrush and the gem should be rinsed with lukewarm water. A great criterion regarding the temperature of the water is, if it hurts your hand, it may also hurt your emerald.
While there is no globally accepted emerald grading system, they may be classified according to their external and internal features. Their color and clarity affect their value. Eye-clean emeralds are considered to be high-quality emeralds.
Emeralds in this category are the most common ones as they make up for 60% of all the emeralds in the world. Decent quality emeralds have a dark green color, and they are cloudy in appearance.
Roughly 30% of all the Emeralds in the world fall into this category. Superior quality emeralds have a light green hue, and they have mild inclusions.
Emeralds in this quality are regarded as rare since they only make up for 10% of all the available mines. Finest quality emeralds have a strong green color, and they contain slight inclusions.
These are the rarest emeralds which are currently at the disposal of the earth. Prodigious quality emeralds show a magnificent green hue, and they only have very small inclusions. Nevertheless, these inclusions do not prevent them from shinning.