This week we feature the elegant Emerald, the first of three “Precious” gemstones that we sell here at Charming Beads (and no, we are not yet rich enough to sell Diamonds!). As May’s birthstone, this timeless classic is one of the most recognised gemstones on the planet and is highly sought after by both gem collectors and the lucky recipients of Emerald-adorned jewellery alike. A fine Emerald is a truly breath-taking sight!
Emeralds are in fact part of the Beryl family of gemstones (which also includes Aquamarine, Morganite, Goshenite, Heliodor and Golden Beryl to name a few). Emeralds have been synonymous with the colour green since ancient times and is used to describe certain shades of green in many languages. Emeralds gain their beautiful rich green colour from trace elements of Chromium, Vanadium, or both.
Colombia produces 50% of the world’s Emeralds with Brazil following closely. The African continent is second only to South America in production, with mines in Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Nigeria. Other notable sources of Emeralds include Afghanistan, Australia China. Each locale typically produces their own identifiable characteristics of colour, size, and clarity.
The word ‘Emerald’ ultimately originates from the Greek word ‘smaragdus’, which means ‘green gem’. The oldest Emeralds are around 2.97 billion years old, but the first known Emeralds were mined in Egypt in about 1500 BC. The gemstones were famously favoured by Cleopatra and featured in many of her royal adornments however, the mines that fuel her passion have long since gone. Emeralds were popular in red-carpet fashion in the days of Elizabeth Taylor but were not popularised again until Angelina Jolie wore a pair of earrings on the red carpet of the 2009 Oscars, valued at around $2.5 million!
The United States and Japan together purchase more than 75% of the world’s cut Emeralds. Due to their intrinsic value, Emeralds are only used for jewellery-making and decorative purposes. You won’t see Emeralds being freely used in appliances or science experiments!
Emerald is considered a “Type III” gemstone, which means these gems virtually always have inclusions. Well over 90% of the emeralds in commerce have been treated to minimize the appearance of the inclusions. Emerald inclusions pose more than aesthetic considerations, however. Although Emeralds have a high hardness rating (7.5 to 8 on the MOHS scale), they are more fragile than other Beryls. (A high MOHS rating doesn’t mean a stone is indestructible. It simply means the stone is more resistant to scratching).
Emerald is considered a life-affirming stone. It is said to open the heart chakra and calm one’s emotions whilst providing inspiration, balance, wisdom, and patience. It is also thought to promote friendship, peace, harmony, and domestic bliss by enabling the wearer to both give and receive unconditional love.