Gemstone Focus: Emeralds

Emeralds have been prized for their stunning green colour for literally millennia. Purported to be Cleopatras favourite gemstone, she had a huge collection though some now believe many of the gemstones may have been peridot. The Incas used emeralds in their jewellery and much of it was stolen and sent back to Spain by the conquistadors. Emeralds are also some of the oldest dated rocks, with some dated to 20 million years.

Emerald is the birthstone of May, the gem for the 55th wedding anniversary and the zodiac birthstone for Cancer.

Facts, care and lore

Emeralds are a unique gemstone in that their colour comes from either chromium or vanadium or both. But what makes them unique is that chromium and vanadium occur in a different layer of the earth to where emeralds are formed, meaning that very unique conditions had to occur to enable their formation.

Thus they are extremely rare. Egypt was once the primary source of all emeralds, but its mines have long since been exhausted. Today Colombia is the prime location for the finest quality gemstones. With a number of countries in Africa and the middle east also becoming main production centres.

Emerald is a member of the beryl family which includes gemstones such as Aquamarine and the lovely pink Morganite. It is a reasonably scratch resistant gemstone, however its many inclusions (fissures, cracks etc) make it a very delicate and fragile gemstone that requires a good deal of care to maintain it.

In general emeralds are best suited for pendants and earrings. However if you do wish to set it into a ring, then choosing a protective setting would be wise. Or alternatively, it should be a ring that is worn only on occasion. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) classes it as a type III gemstone which mean it almost always has inclusions (sometimes called whimsically “jardin”)

In terms of value, emeralds rarity means it comes with a price tag with Colombian emeralds usually commanding the highest prices. A 1ct gemstone will vary in price between $3000 to $19000 depending on the overall grade of the stone. Fewer inclusions and deeper greens will command the highest prices.

That’s a short and sweet summary of emerald! If you’d like to know more please leave a comment and thank you for reading!

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