While the most desirable colour for an emerald is pure green to bluish-green, they also come in yellowish-green and a wide range of saturations across all three colours. The more vivid the green, the more valuable the emerald.
Where are they mined?
Most famously, Colombian emeralds have been mined for over 500 years and are known for their exquisite colour and clarity. Colombia produces over 50% of the world’s emerald production, and the quality of these emeralds set the standards by which all others are measured. The most renowned Colombian emerald mine is the Muzo mine, which is known as the world emerald capital. Brazil and Zambia are two other major sources of emeralds, followed by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Qualities to look for
The most important quality factor in an emerald is its colour – the brighter and more saturated the green, the more valuable it is. While its clarity also contributes to its perceived quality, it is widely accepted that emeralds are a naturally included stone, so having these inclusions does not necessarily mean that an emerald is of a low quality. Many emeralds are oiled to reduce the appearance of inclusions, which is considered an acceptable treatment within the industry. Stones can also be fracture filled with waxes and artificial resins, which have varying degrees of stability, and some paler emeralds with lots of inclusions may be dyed to enhance their colour. It’s always best to look for an emerald that has had as little treatment as possible.
How to wear
Due to its abundance of naturally occurring inclusions, emerald is a high care stone that is not recommended for everyday wear in pieces such as engagement or wedding rings as it’s more susceptible to chipping and cracking. It’s a great stone for necklaces and earrings, which don’t receive as much wear and tear as stones in a ring, but special care still needs to be taken to ensure their longevity. See our detailed care instructions here for more information on how to look after an emerald.
What makes them special?
Emerald is the birthstone for May, and is used to celebrate the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
As the inclusions in an emerald are a natural part of the gemstone they can actually be desirable features, and patterns are referred to as the emerald’s ‘jardin’, the French word for garden.
High quality emeralds can be worth more than diamonds per carat, and are much rarer. They also have a lower density, so a 1ct emerald is larger than a 1ct diamond.
A special cut was designed specially for emeralds, to maximise their colour and clarity – the emerald cut. This cut is used across many other gemstones, including diamonds, and features a rectangular shape with angled corners.
Emerald is one of the five cardinal gems, which are traditionally considered to be the most precious above all other gemstones.
Emeralds in history
The first known emerald mines were found in Egypt and dated as far back as 330 BC.
Cleopatra had a great passion for emeralds, and
adorned herself and her palace with the gemstone as a display of her wealth.
Ancient Egyptians considered emeralds as a symbol of fertility and immortality, and were often buried with them.
The oldest emerald was found in South Africa, and is 2.97 billion years old.
Elizabeth Taylor famously owned an over 23 carat emerald necklace, that sold for $6.5 million USD in 2011.