Last updated on May 29, 2023
Emerald is one of the four recognized precious gemstones, along with diamond, ruby and sapphire, and the official birthstone for May. Its deep green hue and mesmerizing beauty have captivated people for centuries, making it a popular choice for fine jewellery and coveted by collectors and enthusiasts alike.
Emerald Origin and Formation
Emerald is the green to bluish-green variety of beryl, a mineral that is composed of beryllium aluminum cyclosilicate.
The name “emerald” comes from the Greek word “smaragdos,” which means “green gemstone.” The word was later adopted by the Latin language as “smaragdus” and then evolved into “emeraude” in Old French before eventually becoming “emerald” in modern English.
The process of emerald formation begins with the interaction of hot, mineral-rich fluids with the host rock. These fluids are usually created by the metamorphic processes that occur when rocks are subjected to high temperatures and pressures. During this process, the fluids penetrate the host rock, dissolving the minerals within it and carrying them away. As the fluids cool, they deposit the dissolved minerals in cracks and fissures in the rock, forming veins of emerald.
Emeralds are primarily found in Colombia, where they have been mined for thousands of years. Other significant sources of emeralds include Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Noway, Pakistan, Russia, Somaliland, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The quality of emeralds varies greatly depending on their origin, with Colombian emeralds generally considered to be the most valuable due to their deep green colour and high clarity.
Emeralds are most commonly associated with a rich, deep green colour, but the gemstone actually occurs in a range of hues and tones. The colour of an emerald depends on the amount and type of impurities present in the crystal structure of the beryl mineral. Chromium, vanadium and iron are the trace elements responsible for the various emerald hues.
Colour is the chief determinant of value when talking about emeralds. It is evaluated by three components: hue, tone and saturation. Hue describes the type of green the emerald has, for example, bluish-green, yellowish-green, etc. Tonal grade refers to the level of lightness or darkness of the green, while saturation refers to the intensity of the colour.
The most desirable colours for emeralds are bluish green to pure green with no visible colour variations throughout the stone, vivid saturation and medium to dark tone. If the gemstone is not dark and saturated enough, it is not considered a true emerald. In such a case, it is considered to be green beryl.
Emeralds are known for their beautiful green colour, but they are also prized for their clarity. Like other gemstones, emeralds can have inclusions or imperfections that affect their clarity, and the clarity of an emerald can greatly impact its value.
Unlike other gemstones, however, emeralds are notorious for having more inclusions and fractures, which are often called “jardin” (French for “garden”) due to their plant-like appearance. These inclusions are caused by the natural processes that form emeralds, as they often grow in the presence of other minerals and under high pressure and temperature. As a result, it is very rare to find a completely flawless emerald.
When assessing the clarity of an emerald, experts typically consider the number, type, location, and visibility of the inclusions. Some inclusions, such as small needles or minute crystals, may not significantly affect the beauty or durability of the stone and can even add character and uniqueness to the gem. Others, such as large cracks or clouds, can greatly detract from the appearance of the emerald and lower its value.
The most valuable emeralds are those with a high degree of transparency and few visible inclusions, especially those that do not affect the overall appearance of the gem. Emeralds with a high level of clarity are often referred to as “eye-clean,” meaning they are free from visible inclusions when viewed with the naked eye.
Emeralds with a lower degree of clarity may be treated to improve their appearance with methods such as oiling, filling, or heating. These treatments can help to hide or minimize the appearance of inclusions, but they can also affect the durability and longevity of the stone.
Emeralds can be cut into a variety of shapes, but the most popular and traditional cut for emeralds is the emerald cut. The emerald cut is a rectangular or square shape with truncated corners and a large table. The cut was specifically developed for emeralds to enhance their natural beauty and minimize the risk of damage due to their inherent brittleness and inclusions.
Other popular cuts for emeralds include oval, round, pear, and marquise shapes. Each cut can enhance different aspects of the emerald’s beauty, such as its colour, clarity, and overall symmetry.
Emerald Carat Weight
Emeralds can come in a variety of sizes, from tiny chips to large gemstones weighing hundreds of carats. Smaller emeralds are generally more common than larger ones, but larger emeralds are often more valuable due to their rarity.
The most common sizes for emeralds used in fine jewellery range from 0.25 to 3 carats, although larger stones are sometimes used in high-end jewellery. The size of an emerald used in a piece will depend on the type of jewellery being created, the style, and personal preferences.
Emerald Care and Cleaning
Emeralds are relatively durable gemstones, with a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. However, they require more care than some other gemstones due to their natural flaws and inclusions. It is recommended to remove emerald jewellery before engaging in physical activities and household cleaning tasks and to avoid exposing them to chemicals such as ammonia, alcohol, bleach, and other acids.
To clean emeralds at home, one can use a mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Soak the emerald in the solution for about 20 to 30 minutes and use a soft toothbrush to scrub away the dirt. Then, rinse the jewellery with clean water and dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth. It is important to note that emeralds should not be cleaned using harsh chemicals or ultrasonic cleaners, as these can damage the stone or any treatments that have been applied to enhance its durability and colour.
When storing emerald jewellery, it is best to keep it separated from other softer gemstones to prevent scratching. Similarly, one should protect their emeralds from harder gems such as diamonds and store them in separate cloth jewellery bags.
Where to Buy Emeralds
Whether you are an experienced collector or a first-time buyer, Sheena Stone is the perfect place to find your ideal emerald. Sheena Stone is a third-generation jeweller based in NYC, offering an extensive collection of loose emeralds in a range of sizes and colours, from deep green to lighter hues, all sourced from ethical and sustainable sources.
In addition to their loose emeralds, Sheena Stone offers a stunning collection of emerald jewellery, from elegant vintage-style rings to contemporary pieces. Each piece is carefully crafted with attention to detail and features the finest quality gemstones.
What sets Sheena Stone apart is their exceptional customer service. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, always willing to answer questions and provide guidance to ensure you find the perfect emerald jewellery that suits your needs and budget.
Overall, Sheena Stone is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking stunning emeralds or emerald jewellery. With their extensive selection, expert guidance, and commitment to sustainability, you can trust that you will find a piece you will cherish for years to come.
|Chemical Name||Beryllium aluminium silicate|
|Colours||Emerald-green to green, yellowish-green to bluish-green|
|Hardness||7.5 - 8 on the Mohs scale|
|Refractive Index||1.565 - 1.602|
|Specific Gravity||2.7 - 2.8|
|Transparency||Transparent to opaque|
Featured image: photo-world / Canva