certificate jewelry, Emerald

What Is Emerald ?

Emeralds are gem-quality specimens of the beryl mineral family with a rich, distinctly green color. They are found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks in a small number of locations worldwide.

For over 5000 years, emeralds have been one of the most desirable and valuable colored stones. Ancient civilizations in Africa, Asia, and South America independently discovered emeralds and made them a gemstone of highest esteem. In the United States and many other countries, emerald serves as the birthstone for people who were born in the month of May.

Today emerald, together with ruby and sapphire, form the "big three" of colored stones. The "big three" generate more economic activity than all other colored stones combined. In 2015 the value of emeralds imported into the United States exceeded the value of all colored stones outside of the "big three" combined.

Emerald History

Emerald is derived from a Persian word meaning "green gem". It changed from Greek to Latin as smaragdus, then to esmaurde, esmralde, and in the 16th century to esmeralde.

History of Emeralds Emeralds are ancient gemstones. According to the oldest book in the world, the Papyrus Prisse, "But good words are more difficult to find than the emerald, for it is by slaves that it is discovered among the rocks."

This book is 4500 years old, but the passage was copied from a writing 1000 years earlier. The book was probably referring to the Egyptian Mines. The Cleopatra Mines were lost for a thousand years, only to be rediscovered in 1818. Today, Egypt is full of excavations and tunnels. The poor quality and small stone production explains the practical reason why the mines were originally abandoned.

It was recorded that Nero would watch the gladiator games through flat emerald crystals. Pliny, the Roman scholar, was the first to suggest emerald was a family member of beryl. It was not until the early 19th century that science proved him right. Further, Pliny stated regarding the emerald, "Indeed, no stone has a color that is more delightful to the eye, for, whereas the sight fixes itself with avidity upon the green grass and the foliage of the trees, we have all the more pleasure in looking upon the emerald, there being no gem in existence more intense than this."

Emeralds were highly prized by the Incas and Aztecs when discovered in Colombia. Many other cultures have embraced emeralds as their own, and ascribe much value to the green gems, but in the sixteenth century violence became part of the emerald's history when Spanish conquistadors looted thousands of emeralds from the mines in South America. This event put South America on the gemstone map. From this time forward, royalty in many different countries looked to South America for a supply of the beautiful green emerald stones to adorn their rings, necklaces, bracelets and crowns.

Whether a centerpiece of Russian crown jewels, part of a collection of the Iranian State Treasure, or a favorite of Indian Shahs, emeralds have long been associated with royalty and status. Shah Jahan of India, famous for building the Taj Mahal, was so enamored by emeralds that he inscribed his collection with sacred texts and used them as talismans.

certificate jewelry, Emerald

World emerald reserves

The principal Emerald deposits are currently mined in Colombia, Brazil, and Zambia. Emeralds are mined throughout the world (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Australia, United States) but these are the three major sources.

Colombia approximately produces the finest Emeralds. As a general rule, Brazilian Emeralds tend to be darker in tone and more heavily included. The inclusions present in Brazilian Emeralds may be dark inclusions, where the light colored inclusions typically present in Colombian Emeralds (known as jardin) are considered to be less of a factor in adversely impacting the value.

Zambian Emeralds tend to have more of a bluish cast than either Colombian or Brazilian Emeralds, and tend towards a slight grayish cast, which is not present in either Colombian or Brazilian Emeralds. The Zambian and Brazilian Emeralds may also be colored due to the presence of vanadium, whereas Colombian Emeralds usually achieve their coloration from the presence of chromium.

Chivor and Muzo are the two major mining districts in Colombia. Chivor, northeast of Bogota, is in a very rugged terrain with thick forest vegetation. The two major mines of the district are Chivor and Gachala. In this area, the rock is primarily shale and sandstone. Emerald crystals can be found in veins containing pyrite, quartz, and albite.

Muzo is the most famous mining district in Colombia. It is located 60 miles north of Bogota. The climate is hot and humid with relentless rainfall. Muzo, Cosquez, and Pena Blanca are the major mines. Emerald crystals can be found in calcite deposits in shale.

Most of the Emeralds we offer are of Colombian origin, as these tend to have the most widely accepted popularity and represent the best value for our Customers.

Crystal Forms and Aggregates

Emerald often crystallizes in perfect, six-sided hexagons. Crystals are usually as individual prismatic hexagons. Less commonly in short, stubby crystals and crystal plates. The bases of Beryl crystals are usually flat; pyramidal terminations are very rare. Also occurs in columnar aggregates and in massive. Occasionally in drusy or platy aggregates and as bundles of thin, long crystals. Crystals may be striated lengthwise.

Mining for emeralds

Mining for emeralds is a delicate work. These gemstones are often hidden in less valuable rocks. The best quality emeralds are usually found close to the earth's surface, making initial exploration a fragile task. Exploration is best when done by hand, since machinery could destroy or blast away the stones.

Open-Pit Mining :

One way to mine emeralds is through the open-pit method. Workers dig a large pit of about 12 meters deep and then blast the surface with water to disclose the mineral-bearing rocks. In the open-pit mining method, a lot of waste rock must be moved away. The mining area is literally shaped like a pit that can hold equipment and workers.

Terrace Mining :

Terrace mining is similar to open-pit mining as a large hole of about 12 meters is dug here too. In the terrace-mining method, steps or "benches" are created parallel to the pit on the way to the bottom. These benches can be used as exploration spots, where miners search for emerald-rich rock, or they can be used to move away waste rock. This method is used for emerald extraction in Colombia.

Tools Used :

Blasting equipment isn't a good equipment choice for mining emeralds because the gemstones are close to the surface and may be hidden by other minerals. The work of extracting emeralds can be thorough and delicate. Mines in North Carolina give tourists entanglement screens to remove impurities through already-mined gem dirt. Emeralds have been mined for hundreds of years, long before the discovery of electricity and mechanized mining.

Emerald Color

In natural emeralds, color is evaluated by three categories: hue, tonal grade, and saturation. Tonal grade establishes the degree of darkness or lightness of green that is found in the gem. Natural emeralds have a wide variety of green tones, including Very Light, Light, Medium Light, Medium and Medium.

Generally speaking, a high-quality emerald will have a tone in the Medium to Very Dark range. But emeralds can fall into any of those categories. The tonal grade alone doesn't determine the true quality of an emerald. Hue and saturation also have to be considered.

Hue refers to the type of green color an emerald has. For example, a natural emerald could be referred to as “bluish-green” or “yellowish-green.” Most emeralds on the market today are Colombian, and Colombian emeralds present a “bluish-green” color.

Saturation is what gives the color of an emerald its intensity and strength. Emerald saturation can range from very dull green to pure and vivid. For example, “Medium Dark” stones are generally considered high quality. However, if the stone has a dull saturation, the overall quality of it is lowered. On the other hand, if a “Medium Light” stone sparkles with vivid saturation, it will be more appealing. That’s why emeralds are graded by all three categories.

certificate jewelry, Emerald

Emerald Grading

In natural emeralds, color is evaluated by three categories: hue, tonal grade, and saturation. Tonal grade establishes the degree of darkness or lightness of green that is found in the gem. Natural emeralds have a wide variety of green tones, including Very Light, Light, Medium Light, Medium and Medium.

Emeralds are gemstones. Therefore, they can be graded by the preferred grading system for all gemstones: Natural AAA, AA, or A.

  • Natural AAA : This is the highest quality. It represents are the top 10% of gemstones. Natural AAA emeralds are rich green, moderately to slightly included, and they exhibit very high brilliance.
  • Natural AA : This is the second-best category for gemstones. Natural AA gemstones account for 20-30% of all gemstones. Emeralds in this category are medium green and may include moderate inclusions.
  • Natural A : This category accounts for 50 to 75% of all gemstones. Natural A emeralds are dark green, heavily included, and opaque. They are still good, but they are considered to be of a lower quality compared to the two categories above.

Apart from Natural AAA, AA, and A, there’s also a category called Heirloom/Rare Emerald. This is the highest quality, even better than AAA. They are extremely rare and expensive.

Emerald Clarity

Emerald clarity refers to what the gemstone looks like on the inside. The clarity of emeralds makes them different from any other gemstone. Most emeralds have inclusions which include small bits of gasses, other minerals and crystals, and liquids that the emeralds take on during the crystallization process. It’s normal for emeralds to have inclusions — in fact, around 99% of all natural emeralds will include them. There Are three categories of clarity types for colored gemstones. They include Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 gemstones. Emeralds naturally fall into the Type 3 gemstone category.

  • Type 1 gemstones : These are typically inclusion free, or almost inclusion free.
  • Type 2 gemstones : These gemstones are usually included.
  • Type 3 gemstones : These are almost always included.

certificate jewelry, Emerald

Type Of Emerald

Colombian Emeralds

Colombian emeralds are mined in Columbia. These emeralds are known for their exceptional quality.

Brazilian Emeralds

Brazilian emeralds are lighter green gemstones that are mined in Brazil. The term "Brazilian emerald" sometimes refers to green tourmalines.

Cat's Eye Emeralds

These emeralds have a cat's eye effect, called a chatoyancy, which looks like a wide slit similar to the pupil in a cat's eye. Cat's eye emeralds are very rare and only found in paler green emeralds.

Trapiche Emeralds

Trapiche emeralds contain black impurities that form a six-rayed star. This unusual type of emerald is mined only in the Muzo area of Columbia.

Star Emeralds

The term "star emeralds" typically refers to trapiche emeralds. The term is sometimes used to describe the rare occurrence of asterism, or the appearance of a rayed star moving inside of an emerald.

Synthetic Emerald

Synthetic emeralds are often referred to as "created", as their chemical and gemological composition is the same as their natural counterparts. A lab-created emerald is a real emerald but not a natural emerald. Synthetic emeralds are some of the most expensive synthetic gems. The methods used to create them in labs require expensive equipment. The process is slow and energy intensive, and the yield of facetable material is low.

Type of synthetic emerald :

  • hydrothermal synthetic emerald
  • flux-growth synthetic emerald

Type Of Emerald Cuts

Step Cut

certificate jewelry, Emerald

A step or emerald cut is popular and named after the emerald gemstone. It has parallel facets that are precisely cut going down from the top open facet. This enables the color to shine through and also helps the emerald to maintain it’s structural integrity. Avoid emeralds that have large inclusions in the central top facet, as they are more visible. With Clarity ensures that all emeralds are chosen have minimal inclusions.

Brilliant Cut

certificate jewelry, Emerald

The brilliant cut has triangular cut facets varying in number depending on the shape of the emerald. The brilliant cut can be difficult to produce as it requires more cutting, precision, and potentially more wastage. However, it produces the most sparkle.

Mixed Cut

certificate jewelry, Emerald

The mixed cut is a combination of the brilliant cut and the step cut and is a common cut for the emerald. The crown of the emerald is typically brilliant cut to enhance the sparkle and the pavilion is step cut to minimize wastage. With Clarity uses emeralds that are brilliant cut or mixed cut to maximize the sparkle and color.

Cabochon Cut

certificate jewelry, Emerald

Cabochon cut emeralds are those that have a smooth rounded exterior and a flat bottom. These are easier to produce than other cuts and are therefore more affordable than other cuts. Cabochons are produced in a variety of sizes.

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