Emerald
 
Emerald is the Birthstone of May.   55th Anniversary Representation and Modern Gift; and, 20th and 35th Anniversary Gemstone.
 
Emeralds are fascinating gemstones.   They have the most beautiful, intense and radiant green that can possibly be imagined:  Emerald green.   Inclusions are tolerated.   Fine emeralds are more valuable than Diamonds.
 
The word Emerald is derived, via Old French 'esmeraude' and Middle English 'emeraude', from the Greek 'smaragdos' meaning 'green gemstone'.   Innumerable fantastic stories have grown up around this magnificent gem.   The Incas and Aztecs of South America (where the best Emeralds are still found today) regarded the Emerald as a holy gemstone.   The oldest known finds were made near the Red Sea in Egypt.   These mines were exploited by Egyptian pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C. and later referred to as 'Cleopatra's Mines'.
 
The Vedas, the holy scriptures of the Indians, says, "Emeralds promise good luck ..."; and "The emerald enhances the well-being ...".   So it is no wonder the treasure chests of Indian leaders contained wonderful Emeralds.   One of the world's largest is the 'Mogul Emerald'.   Dating 1695, it weighs 217.80 carats and is approximately 10cm tall.   One side of it is inscribed with prayer texts and the other side magnificent floral ornaments.   This legendary Emerald was auctioned by Christie's of London to an unidentified buyer for $2.2 million US Dollars on September 28th 2001.
 
Emeralds have been held in high esteem since ancient times.   For that reason, some of the most famous Emeralds can be seen in museums and collections around the world.   New York's Museum of Natural History has an exhibit  which  includes a cup made of pure Emerald originally belonging to the Emperor Jehangir and one of the largest Colombian Emerald crystals, 'Patricia', which weighs 632 carats.   The Bank of Bogata collection contains five Emerald crystals weighing between 220 and 1796 carats.   The Iranian National Treasury contains fabulous Emeralds, one of which adorns the diadem of the former Empress Farah.   Turkish sultans also loved Emeralds.   In Istanbul stands the Topkapi Palace exhibits lavishly adorned jewelry, writing-implements and daggers.
 
The Green of Life and Love
 
The green of the Emerald is the color of life and Spring time.   But, it is also the color of beauty and constant love.   In ancient Rome, green was the color of Venus, goddess of beauty and love.  Today, this color still occupies a special position in many cultures and religions.   Green is the holy color of Islam.   Many of the states of the Arab League have green in their flags as a symbol of the unity of their faith.   Green also has a high status in the Catholic Church, where it is regarded as the most natural and elemental of the liturgical colors.
 
For the purpose of grading gemstones, color is divided into three components:  hue, saturation, and tone.   Yellow and blue, the hues found adjacent to green on the spectral color wheel, are the normal secondary hues found in Emerald.   Emeralds occur in hues ranging from yellow-green to blue-green.   The primary hue being green.   Only gems that are medium to dark in tone are considered Emerald.   Light-toned gems are known by, green Beryl.   In addition, the hue must be bright (vivid).   Gray is the normal saturation modifier or 'mask' found in Emerald.   A grayish green hue is a dull green.   A fine Emerald must possess not only a pure verdant green hue, but also a high degree of transparency to be considered a top gem.
 
Fingerprints of Nature
 
A really good quality Emerald is fairly rare.   Inclusions often mar the evenness of the color.   Fine inclusions, however, do not by any means diminish the high regard in which it is held.  On the contrary: even with inclusions, an emerald in a deep, lively green still has a much higher value than an almost flawless emerald which is pale.   Affectionately (possibly poetically) the numerous inclusions, which are typical of this gemstone, are often referred to as "islands" or "gardens".   They are regarded as features which identity a gem which has grown naturally.
 
Emeralds from Zimbabwe are among the oldest gemstones in the world.   From a chemical-mineralogical point of view, Emeralds are beryllium-aluminium-silicates with a hardness of 7.5 - 8 on the Mohs scale and belong to the Beryl family.   The coloring of the Emerald is due to traces of chromium and vanadium.   Since these elements more commonly found in separate parts of the earth's crust from beryllium, the Emerald is a miracle of creation.
 
Colombia is currently where the majority of fine Emeralds are being found.   It has around 150 known deposits.   Emeralds were mined by the Incas in pre-Columbian times.   In economic terms, the most important mine is at Coscuez, where some 60 faces are being worked.   According to estimates, approximately three quarters of Colombia's Emerald production now comes from the Coscuez Mine.   The Colombian Emeralds differ from Emeralds from other deposits in that they have an especially fine color and shine which is unimpaired by any blue tint.   The color may still vary slightly from find to find.   This fascinatingly beautiful color is so highly esteemed in the international Emerald trade that even obvious inclusions are regarded as acceptable.   The Trapiche Emerald comes from Colombia.   Trapiche Emeralds have six rays emanating from the center which resemble the spokes of a wheel.
 
Even if many of the best Emeralds are undisputedly of Colombian origin, the 'birthplace' of a stone is never an absolute guarantee of its quality.   Fine Emeralds are also found in Zambia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Russia.   Zambia, Zimbabwe and Brazil in particular have a good reputation for fine Emeralds.   Excellent Emerald crystals with deep green color and good transparency come from Zambia.   Their color tends to be darker than Colombian Emeralds and often has a slightly blue undertone.   Emeralds from Zimbabwe are mostly small, but with a vivacious, intense color with a slight yellow hue.   Brazil also produces Emeralds in beautiful tones which are only slightly less attractive than those of their famous neighbor.   Brazil is the top supplier of rare Cat's Eyes and Trapiche Emeralds.   Thanks to the finds in Africa and Brazil, there are more Emeralds on the market now.
 
 
A Sophisticated Gemstone
 
To a large extent, the hardness of the Emerald protects it from scratches, but its brittleness and many fissures can make cutting, setting and cleaning difficult.   Even for a skilled gem cutter, Emeralds present a special challenge due to the high value of the raw crystals and the frequent inclusions.   Cutters have developed a special cut just for this gemstone - Emerald cut.   The clear design of the rectangular or square cut with its bevelled corners brings out the full beauty of Emeralds, at the same time protecting it from mechanical strain.
 
Emeralds are also cut in other shapes, mostly classical, but if the raw material contains a large number of inclusions it may be cut into a rounded cabochon or beads, which are popular in India.
 
Today, many Emeralds are enhanced with colorless oils or resins.   This is a general trade practice, but it does have the consequence that they cannot withstand inappropriate treatment.   For example, they cannot be cleaned in an ultrasonic bath.   The substances that may have been used by the cutter, or applied subsequently, seal the fine pores in the surface of the gem.   Removing the seal will result in giving the Emerald a matte appearance.   Emerald rings should always be taken off before working with a cleansing agent.
 
 
 
 
 
 
GB Jewelers, Inc.
Under the Clock Tower
675 SE Marlin Avenue, Suite 1  /  PO Box 999
Warrenton, OR 97146
800-869-1481

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