Emerald Gemstones Facts – The Ultimate Guide

Emerald gemstone facts, take an in depth look at this gorgeous gemstone. Find out if emeralds are the gemstone for you.

Emerald Gemstones FactsEmerald is undoubtedly the most precious and most beautiful of all the green coloured gemstones. Its vibrant colour makes this glorious gemstone highly sought after and is a very popular choice of gemstone for jewellery. What should you know about Emeralds before you purchase one? And what makes this stunning gemstone so highly sought after?

Emerald Gemstone Facts

Emeralds are the most famous variety of Beryl, a mineral stone. The emerald stone gets its green colour from traces of the element chromium and, on occasions, traces of vanadium. Emeralds range in colour from bright vivid green, to a more bluish green. Many experts often disagree at what colour an Emerald is no longer an Emerald but rather a Green Beryl. Generally speaking, when the stone is considered to be too pale a green to be classified as an Emerald it is called a Green Beryl instead. Most Emeralds have many inclusions and this makes the Emerald less resistant to damage than some of the other gemstones.

Did you know?

  • Emeralds are the birthstone for the month of May
  • The oldest Emeralds originate from South Africa and are estimated to be 2.97 billion years old
  • The Chemical composition of the gemstone Emerald is Be3Al2Si6O18
  • Emeralds are the gemstone of the 20th and 35th Wedding Anniversaries
  • The name of this gemstone is derived from ancient Greek word ‘smaragdus’ which means green
  • The earliest recorded Emerald mines were in Egypt
  • Emeralds are thought to relieve stress as their colour has a calming affect
  • Thailand’s most sacred icon is named the Emerald Buddha
  • The world’s largest producer of Emeralds is Columbia

Emeralds in History

Emeralds have been a part of history for millenniums. In fact the very earliest recorded Emerald mine is said to have been worked from at least 330 BC to possibly as long ago as 3500BC. The last Pharoah of Egypt, Cleopatra, is famously known for her love of the beautiful green gemstones and she used Emeralds in her royal wear.

Emeralds are steeped in legends and have been used in religious ceremonies for many thousands of years. According to legend, placing an emerald under your tongue enables the person to foresee into the future. Emeralds were said to protect the wearer from evil spirits and spells. They are also said to make the wearer into an eloquent speaker and the GIA reports that there was a time when:

Emerald was once also believed to cure diseases like cholera and malaria.

When the Spanish Explorers stripped the New World of their precious goods, Columbian Emeralds were amongst the loot. These Emeralds had been used religiously and in jewellery by the Inca People for hundreds of years. The Spanish people traded these gemstones for gold and silver, introducing this stunning gemstone to Europeans and Asians.

Emeralds can be found in many parts of the Earth and on several different continents from as far apart as Russia to Columbia in South America. They can also be found in:

  • China
  • Israel
  • Brazil
  • Madagascar
  • Zimbabwe
  • Zambia
  • Pakistan
  • India and
  • Afghanistan

Famous Emerald Gemstones

  • The Hooker Emerald was worn by the Sultan, Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II supposedly on the buckle of his belt. This stunning square-cut Emerald is 75 carats and is currently on display at the National Museum of Natural History.
  • Also on display at the National Museum of Natural History is the famous Mackay Emerald Necklace, with the Emerald centrepiece being 167 carats. The Emerald was mined in Muzo in Columbia and was a wedding gift from Clarence H Mackay to his wife, Anna Case.
  • Another famous Emerald on display at the U.S National Museum of Natural History is the 37.82 carats Chalk Emerald ring. This piece is of particular interest due to its being of the very finest quality of Emerald from Columbia. It was originally 38.40 carats but was re-cut and set in a ring by Harry Wilson Inc.
  • One of the largest Emeralds in the world is the Mogul Emerald. It is in the form of a rectangular tablet and stands at 10cm high. This emerald is a staggering 217.80 carats and is inscribed with Islamic prayers. The famous Emerald was sold at an auction in 2001 for 2.2 million dollars.
  • The record price fetched per carat for the gemstone was made by Elizabeth Taylors Emerald pendant which sold for $6,578,500. That worked out at $280,000 per carat!

What to Look for in an Emerald

The factors that decide the quality of an Emerald are the same as other gemstones. Cut, Carat, Clarity and Colour with colour being the most important consideration when determining the value of an Emerald.

  • Colour – The most desirable colour is vivid, pure green with bluish green gems also being highly desirable. The colour should not be too dark nor should it be too pale. If the gemstone is too bluish or yellowish then the gemstone is no longer classed as an Emerald and is dramatically less valuable. The best green colour should be as intense as possible.
  • Cut – Emeralds are difficult to cut as they all have significant fissures or fractures. Mistakes can cause damage to the gemstone and this in turn can significantly lower the value of the Emerald. These fractures make the Emerald more brittle and therefore more easily damaged. The finished cut must minimise the risks of damage through daily wear.
  • Clarity – Emeralds as a whole tend to have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye and this fact is generally accepted by many. The most valuable Emeralds of all are the ones that have no visible inclusions as these gemstones are so incredibly rare to find. Wikipedia says that:

    Eye-clean stones of a vivid primary green hue with no more than 15% of any secondary hue or combination (either blue or yellow) of a medium-dark tone command the highest prices

    However, it is worth bearing in mind that any inclusion that negatively affects the gemstones transparency will lower the value of the Emerald.
  • Carat – Emeralds come in all shapes and sizes and that is one of the reasons they are so popular as part of jewellery. Tiny Emeralds that originate from Zimbabwe are intensely green in colour and very desirable. Despite this they rarely weigh in at more that 1.50 carats. Larger carats of Emerald make great centrepieces for jewellery. When the quality of an Emerald is good, the bigger the stone the higher the price per carat it fetches.

How to Clean Your Emerald Jewellery

emerald ringAs a rule, Emeralds are much more easily damaged than other gemstones such as those of the Corundum variety, i.e. Rubies and Sapphires. Emeralds are very brittle due to their inclusions, and should not be worn during heavy physical activity. Some solvents can damage Emeralds and they are sensitive to extremes in temperature. Never use a steam cleaner or an ultrasonic cleaner to clean your emerald as this will damage it.

Do not wear your Emerald whilst you are washing dishes as the gemstone will become coated in soap and grease, causing it to lose its shine.

When cleaning your Emerald use a very soft toothbrush in tepid water to gently brush away dirt and grease. Use very mild hand soap on the toothbrush and rinse the Emerald under tepid running water. Pat the Emerald dry gently.

Emeralds should not be cleaned more than a handful of times a year and never more than necessary. Do not use jewellery liquid cleaner to clean your Emerald as these may damage your gemstone. Only clean your Emerald when necessary and take care to be very gentle.

As the most famous and valuable of the Beryl varieties, the Emerald is still as popular today as it has always been. Boasting to be one of the intense colours of green in existence, no one can deny the sheer beauty of the Emerald. Emeralds were made to be worn in jewellery and this beautiful stone is widely available in the form of rings, earrings and pendants.

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