If you’re a May baby, many people are green with envy for your birthstone, the Emerald. Emeralds, one of the most precious gemstones, are a lush green color. The Emerald stone represents love, fertility and rebirth. Emeralds typically become more valuable the darker in color the stone is. Emeralds are the most famous of the beryl family and are formed when chromium, vanadium and iron are present as the mineral is forming. The varying amounts of these 3 elements is what gives emeralds a range of colors (iron gives the blueish tint).
Emeralds were first known to be mined in Egypt from 330 BC until the 1700s. The ancient Egyptians prized the Emerald stones and would often bury mummies with Emeralds to represent eternal youth. Cleopatra was known to wear Emeralds in her decorative royal embellishments. Although Indians had been wearing Emeralds and using them in their religious ceremonies for 500 years in the sixteenth century, it was the Spanish explorers who invaded what is now Columbia and helped make Emeralds more mainstream. The Spanish traded the Emeralds for gold and silver, which they treasured much more than gemstones. The trades of Emeralds by the Spanish explorers caught the eyes of Asia and European royalties, putting Emeralds on the market.
Emeralds naturally have a lot of inclusions in them. The jewelry industry is typically more accepting of inclusions in Emeralds compared to other gemstones, as they are anticipated. Some jewelers have put a positive spin on Emerald inclusions by calling them “jardins” (garden) instead of saying heavily included. Colombia is one of the largest producers of Emeralds. Colombian Emeralds are known for their excellent, rich color. Zimbabwe and Zambia are also famous producers of Emeralds with Zambia producing Emeralds of great clarity.
Emeralds sit between a 7.5 and 8 on the mohs hardness scale, making them softer than many other gemstones. Like most gemstones on the market, Emeralds often go through a treatment process. When emeralds have fractures that reach the surface, an oil or resin is often applied to help improve clarity and color, which the jewelry industry calls fracture filling. Other treatments of emeralds include dying or coating of the Emeralds, but these treatment processes are rare in comparison to fracture filling and none of these treatments are permanent.
It is important to be mindful of Emeralds sensitivity when cleaning your jewelry. Never clean your Emeralds using steam or an ultrasonic cleaner. Instead, use warm soapy water and be cautious not to scrub too hard. To learn more about safe cleaning and care practices for your gemstones click here.
Because emeralds are known to have inclusions and fissures, Emeralds that have minimal inclusions and fissures can be extremely valuable. In fact, quality Emeralds that are clear, big and rich in color will typically be worth more than quality diamonds. The value of Emeralds fluctuates much more than we see in other stones, especially for smaller Emeralds.
As part of the big three (Emeralds, Sapphires and Rubies), Emeralds are a timeless stone that aren’t going out of style anytime soon. Emeralds are a unique stone that produce a wide variety of color and clarity. Emeralds are named the birthstone of May because they represent the rebirth and renewal that’s associated with Spring and Summer. Emeralds are precious stones that can be quite fragile. Over time Emeralds can become damaged and break free, leaving their settings intact. If you have Emeralds that haven’t been checked in a while, its always a good idea to bring them into a trusted jeweler to make sure your Emerald gemstones are sturdy in their settings. To inquire about purchasing quality Emeralds, or to ask about the integrity of your current gemstones, you can stop into Les Olson Jewelers or give us a call 727-785-9624.