Do you think diamonds are the most expensive gemstones in the world? Surprise, surprise! They aren’t! In fact, there is another stone which, in its naturally occurring form, can be twice as expensive as a diamond of the same size and weight. And that gemstone is – yes, you are right - emerald. This green beauty has captured the hearts of many, from Cleopatra and Elizabeth Taylor to Angelina Jolie. And who can be blamed? Such is its allure!
Emeralds belong to the beryl family and have a hardness of 7.5 - 8 on the Mohs scale. Their lush green colour is influenced by traces of chromium and vanadium. Though these gemstones are synonymous with green, they aren’t always green. They are also found in blue-green shades. The colour green stands for life and prosperity and naturally, many consider these green stones as symbolic of success, fertility, and progress. Are you planning to add emerald rings or pendants or necklaces to your jewellery collection? Here is everything you should know about this stone which adorned kings and queens of the world.
History of Emeralds
The word emerald is derived from the Greek word ‘smaragdus’, which means green gem. However, the first emerald mines were located not in Greece but in Egypt. These mines date back to 330BC and beyond. Cleopatra is believed to have been a great admirer of these stones. She is believed to have used them in many of her jewellery pieces. There are several popular myths linked to this stunning gemstone, some of which suggest that it could be used to prevent epilepsy, forecast the future, etc. It was also believed that wearing the stone could make a person smarter. In India, these green beauties were most popular with the Mughals. Sacred texts were often inscribed on these stones that were them worn as talismans.
History has it that this royal gemstone has been worn by famous people for many centuries. Some of the most celebrated stones include the 37.8 carat Chalk Emerald and the 217.8 carat Mughal Emerald. Another popular one is the 1759 carat Guinness Emerald Crystal.
Types of Emeralds
There are many different types of emeralds, each of which is named after the country of its origin. For instance, Columbian emeralds are mined in Columbia and the Brazilian variants are mined in Brazil.
Naturally occurring emeralds are among the most expensive gemstones in the world of jewellery. However, not all real emeralds are extracted from the earth. Many of them are created in a lab by humans. Such stones, which are called synthetic emeralds, have same chemical structure and physical properties as their natural counterparts. However, the man-made varieties of the stone are much less expensive. Today, the ever-alluring beauty of this green stone is affordable to every jewellery lover, thanks to its synthetic variety.
Some synthetic emeralds may also include inclusions which mimic those found in natural emeralds. It is not possible to tell a real and synthetic emerald apart with the naked eye. Only a jeweller or a gemologist can tell the two apart.
Birthstones and Anniversary Stones
Emeralds are the birthstone for people born in the month of May. They are also deemed symbolic of twenty or thirty five years of a couple’s marriage. As per Indian astrology, the stone represents the planet Mercury.
Real Emeralds vs Fake Emeralds
Emeralds are not the only green coloured stones available in the market. If you aren’t careful, you may end up buying a peridot or coloured glass instead of a real emerald. Given the price of these exquisite stones, this could be a very costly mistake. Fake ones are usually lighter than real ones and they also have a yellow undertone. The facets of these fake stones are also softer and less clean as compared to real gems. They are also usually very clear and have no inclusions. A real emerald without inclusions is rare to find in nature. In some cases, real stones may also be augmented with a layer of plastic or glass. This makes them look bigger and a deeper shade of green.
How to Buy Emerald Jewellery?
It takes a trained eye to find a piece of jewellery studded with a high-quality emerald. However, there are a few basic things you should keep in mind when buying emerald ornaments. As in the case of diamonds, you should look for the 4 Cs when you buy this jewellery online or offline. Those 4 Cs are colour, cut, clarity, and carat. Let’s quickly see what each of these means.
Colour: Ideally, the colour of this gem should lie between a pure deep green and shades of blue-green. Dark toned stones are not very popular. It shouldn’t show any colour zones but should have an even colour tone all over. Do not buy emeralds that have too high yellow or blue tones. The mineral traces present in a stone have the biggest effect on its colour. The geographical location from which a stone is mined also determines the colour of the stone. For example, Columbian emeralds are usually warmer while Zambian varieties are cooler.
Cut: Emeralds are hard but brittle stones. Hence when mined, they usually contain fractures. The placement of these fractures defines the best way to cut a raw stone. The way it is cut can also influence its perceived colour. For example, a deep cut with minimal facets can make a light coloured stone appear darker. A number of popular cuts such as round, square, princess, teardrop, marquise, and oval are used to shape these green gems. Do you know that there is a cut named after this stone, called emerald cut? This rectangular cut gives the stone an understated sparkle.
Clarity: It is rare to find an emerald without visible inclusions. These inclusions usually do not affect the value of the gem. However, they could reduce the value if they affect the stone’s opacity.
Carat: Carat refers to the weight of a gemstone. Emeralds can be bought in a wide range of carats. The higher the carat value, the more expensive a stone will be. Some cuts, such as the marquise cut, can make a low carat stone appear large. So if you are looking for a bigger bang for the bucks you spend, look for jewellery featuring marquise-cut stones.
How to Look After Your Emerald Jewellery?
Are you a proud owner of emerald earrings, bangles or pendants? You should give these stones the care they deserve so that they will keep shining. Here is a quick rundown of how to care for your emeralds:
- Exposing these green gems to heat or light can damage them. They should not be kept on the window sill or in any place under direct sunlight.
- Do not place your emerald jewellery in a bag or box where it can rub against other jewellery. Instead, place it in a fabric-lined box with separate slots where you can store your emerald nose pins, diamond pendants, pearl necklaces, etc.
- Dirt, oil, and grease that accumulate on the stone may affect its lustre. To prevent this build-up, wear them only after you have finished applying makeup, lotions, perfumes, etc.
- You should also clean your gem-studded jewellery often using a solution of warm water and gentle detergent. To clean it further, you can brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Dry it using a lint-free cloth or micro-fibre towel.
- Emeralds are typically treated with colourless oil or resin to conceal the fractures on their surface. With use, this coating may wear off, so you need to take them to professional jewellery for re-oiling.
A piece of emerald jewellery, no matter how big or small, is a thing of pride to own. Yellow gold and this green gem make an eternal classic. Emerald-studded white gold jewellery is a pure delight to wear. Add diamonds or rubies to this mix, and you get heavenly pieces anyone would drool over.