Emeralds have been a prized possession since the days Cleopatra walked the Earth. Their rich greenish-blue tones are reminiscent of lush landscapes and have been praised for the unique saturation of green not seen in other gemstones. Perhaps you’ve laid eyes on some tourmalines and tsavorite garnets that carry an incredible green color, and yet still do not resemble emeralds in the least. It may be the slight bluish undertones that emeralds tend to exhibit, or simply their chemical composition that makes them so exquisite. Either way, emeralds are truly a wonder of nature and fit perfectly as the springtime gemstone for May.
When talking about emeralds, we are talking about a variety of the mineral beryl. Beryl is a mineral species that also produces Aquamarine (another favorite amongst the ranks). It is the presence of chromium in beryl that creates the Emerald variety. There is a variety of beryl that is simply called green beryl, not quite the color of emerald to hold the name. There’s been quite a debate amongst gemologists and collectors as to what differentiates Emerald from green beryl. Green beryl is thought to have a very low saturation of color, not ideal to Emerald collectors. Therefore, what constitutes an emerald as an emerald, is the saturation of color due to the levels of chromium within the gem material.
Emeralds exhibit a unique quality unlike their green beryl counterparts. Unfortunately, these gems tend to be heavily concentrated with inclusions and cracks. Rarely do you see a natural emerald that hasn’t been filled with oil or resins. In fact, the trade estimates around 99% of all emeralds have been treated in some way. This is due to the fact that having such a high concentration of imperfections and cavities within the stone makes it extra fragile, and prone to breaking. The material also becomes more brittle if it dries out from exposure to heat or solvents.
Treating emeralds with natural oils such as Danish oil improves the gemstone’s clarity and enhances the color. Oiling does not affect value in the commercial jewelry world. Resin and polymer treatments, on the other hand, significantly lower the market value of an emerald, in the same way that lead-glass filling affects ruby market values.
Ideal quality emeralds, as you’ve probably guessed, are quite rare and are generally only available to those whom can afford it. Emeralds have been adorning royals and the elite for thousands of years. Recently, Elizabeth Taylor’s famous emerald necklace sold for over six and a half million dollars. Goes to show the high praise and value a fine emerald specimen commands.
If you are looking to commission a custom design using an emerald, we would love to show you the differences between qualities, treatments, and synthetics versus naturals. Generally emeralds make a much better choice for earrings or pendants, instead of rings, and they are the perfect gift for those you love who were born in the month of May. Please contact us to schedule an appointment or a phone call to learn more.
Lastly, it just so happens that Everling is located right in the heart of the Emerald City, and these gorgeous gems are always a favorite amongst the Everling team.