“Nothing greens greener,” wrote Roman author Pliny, the Elder of Emerald. Other gems, such as tourmaline and peridot, are green, however emerald is associated with the the richest greens and the most lush landscapes. The word emerald comes from the Greek, Smaragdos, which means “green.” It has been thought that its pleasing color provided cool comfort to the eyes; today science has proven this is true.
The Cleopatra Mine in Egypt, which dates from around 330 BCE is the earliest documented source of emeralds. Today, Colombia produces what many consider the highest quality emeralds. Other notable sources include Brazil, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, India, China, Nigeria, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Emerald is the green variety of the mineral beryl species. The value of an emerald is determined by its color, and the most desirable color ranges from an intense bluish green to a pure green. Therefore, when purchasing emeralds, stones that are too pale should be avoided. Bluish or yellowish, they are likely not to be considered as emeralds, but possibly green beryl, the price of which is valued at a fraction of a true high-quality emerald.
Emeralds have a higher inclusion rate in comparison to most other gemstones. Those that are flawless to the unaided eye are almost non-existent. In contrast to most other gemstones, eye-visible inclusions in emeralds are acceptable unless they are so numerous that they compromise the stone’s transparency. The most valuable emeralds have an even color distribution and are highly transparent. When purchasing high-end jewelry emeralds, avoid stones that are partly transparent and partly translucent. Emeralds that are high in inclusions are translucent but can still have a desired color; those are ideally cut as cabochon, a cut that consists of a dome on their top.
Filling surface-reaching fractures with oil is a very common treatment performed on almost every emerald. This only serves to hide the visibility of the fractures by increasing transparency, thus improving the emerald’s appearance. Some jewelers are not aware of the product they sell and may give you inaccurate information. Therefore, assume that every emerald is treated with oil. While this is accepted in the trade, fracture filling with colored oil improves the apparent color of the stone. This practice is generally disapproved. Moreover, jewelers tend to sell their medium to higher quality emeralds as “Colombian” because the source is synonymous with the most valuable, a common misconception. You may decide to purchase any type of emeralds as long as you make an informed purchase with a reputable jeweler. Furthermore, insist on having gemological reports for the emeralds you wish to purchase by seeking the professional opinion of an independent third-party laboratory such as DANAT, the best authority in Bahrain and the region that scientifically tests gemstones and pearls.
Cleaning emerald jewelry with ultrasonic or steam cleaners is risky because of the filling. Oil can sweat out of fractures due to the ultrasonic vibrations and hot steam. The safest way to clean emeralds is with warm, soapy water and gentle scrubbing.
If you were born in the month of May, then emerald is your birthstone. Today, the green gemstone is offered on 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
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