The 2.97 million old emeralds belong to the family of Beryl minerals and the word emerald comes from the Greek word ‘smaragdus’ meaning ‘green gem’. Emerald is also the birthstone for May babies.
In ancient times, emeralds came out of Egypt. Deep in the desert, people began intermittently mining the Egyptian emerald deposit around 500 BCE. Later, during Cleopatra’s reign (51 BCE-21 BCE), mining became a more regular activity. She especially favored emeralds and took every occasion to flaunt her wealth in emeralds. As a result of increased demand, a town was built near the mines around 30 BCE to provide protection and cater to the miners’ needs.
Although these emeralds were often either opaque or translucent and generally pale in color, Egypt became the premier source for these gems. They also became highly prized jewelry stones in the Roman Empire. Most emeralds were left in their original hexagonal crystalline shape, often with a hole drilled through along their length for use as a bead, but some were polished into rounded beads or cabochons.
Cleopatra’s emerald mines have long since run dry. Although they were re-discovered in the 1800s, further efforts…
Many ancient empires loved the colour and beauty of emeralds and one of the famous personalities from history to cover herself with emerald jewellery was Cleopatra.
Emeralds are now famously mined from Columbia, Zambia and Ethiopia. The finest emeralds have been noted to come from Columbia. The purest green colour emeralds are highly sought after by collectors.
An important fact to take note for emerald buyers is that the emerald has a lower density as compared to the corundum family. Thus a 1.00ct emerald will look much bigger than a 1.00ct sapphire or ruby. Emeralds are also not as hard as compared to sapphires and proper care must be given to the emeralds to prevent cracks and chips. Inclusions or ‘jardines’ [inclusions are commonly referred to for emeralds] are frequently found in emeralds. It’s very rare to find emeralds without inclusions and they can fetch prices higher than diamonds.
The emeralds are green to greenish blue gemstones of the mineral species beryl. The green colouration is caused by the presence of chromium, vanadium or iron (or a combination of these elements).
Different concentrations of these three elements gives the emerald its range of colors. Trace elements chromium and vanadium causes the intense green color while iron gives the bluish tint.
Emeralds are mainly found in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Ethiopia and an ongoing market trend in Russia.
Colombian emerald is the finest and most valuable variety of emerald gemstone resourced from the mines of Colombia. Situated in the continent of South America, Colombia is known for its deeply hidden emerald mines that supply rich green coloured emeralds in the global market.
It is estimated that Colombia accounts for 70–90% of the world’s emerald market. While commercial grade emeralds are quite plentiful, fine and extra fine quality emeralds are extremely rare. Colombian emeralds over 50 carat can cost much more than diamonds of the same size.
Traditionally a couples’ 20th, 35th & 55th Anniversary is celebrated with an emerald gift. The green colour of the natural emerald is said to promote a calm and peaceful spirit.
Emeralds from other origins
Zambian emerald is a superior variety of natural emerald gemstone, known best for its deep green hue with slight bluish overtone and superior clarity.
Ethiopian emerald is a newly discovered variety of natural emerald gemstone mined from the Ethiopian region. It is recognised for its deep green hue, fine clarity, brilliant luster and exceptional size.
The emeralds of Brazil have typically been perceived as commercial quality stones.
They tend to be both lighter in tone and saturation than their famous cousins from Colombia. Many of the Brazilian stones are also bluer than those from Colombia due to increased amounts of the trace element iron.
Russian emerald is one of the finest quality emeralds resourced from the Russian region. These beautiful green gems are recognised by their unique light to medium green color, crystal-like clarity and considerable size.
The most revered Buddha in the world today is arguably a statue known as the “Emerald Buddha” housed in The Chapel of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. Today, we know that the statue is not really made of emerald, but rather, green jasper or jade.
In 1994, an exceptionally large natural emerald crystal weighing 3,600 carats was discovered in Africa and carved into a single image of the Standing Buddha. The image was carved by Aung Nyein, a Burmese jade carver. The statue was completed in February 2006 and weighs 2,620 carats.
A famous emerald attaches its owner to a rich history that tell stories of exotic lands, ancient civilizations, and mighty empires, which many famous people treasures. Famous Emeralds includes The Chalk Emerald, Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari emerald and diamond pendant brooch, Queen Elizabeth II’s Vladimir Tiara, Emerald and diamond ear clips owned by the Grand Duchess Vladimir, The Stotesbury Emerald, Catherine the Great’s Emerald Necklace, The Flagler Emerald, The Rockefeller Emerald, The Dupont Emerald and A Cartier Art Deco Emerald, Diamond, and Enamel brooch.