Among the most coveted gemstones, an emerald is a piece of history, nature and a wearable work of art. Representing the ‘color of spring’, emeralds are said to signify hope, new growth and eternal life.
The most famous member of the Beryl family, emeralds have a chemical composition of silicate of aluminum and beryllium, chromium, vanadium, and iron, are the trace elements that cause it’s color. Emeralds have a hardness of 7 1/2 to 8 on the Mohs Scale, which is a relative scale of hardness. Simply put: the higher the number, the harder the material. With a rating of 7 1/2 to 8 on the Mohs scale, emeralds are harder than most minerals, but not as hard as diamonds. Emeralds are also the birthstone for May and the traditional gemstone for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
Inclusions and Growth of an Emerald
Emeralds are one of the few gemstones in which inclusions are not only tolerated, but considered to be a magnificent part of the gemstone’s character. These inclusions come from the stormy and turbulent environment in which the gems formed, over 100 million years ago. Each inclusion tells us something about what earth was like when the emerald developed, like a miniature time capsule that is a snapshot of the earth’s development. Emeralds are the only precious gemstone that can contain three different types -liquid, gas, and solid – of inclusions within the same stone. This means that there could be a bubble of air from over 100 million years ago, as well as a drop of water and a piece of solid matter that are all contained within the same gemstone. In fact, scientists have analyzed the tiny samples of “fossil air” contained within emeralds to examine what the earth was like 100 million years ago, giving us a fascinating view into the world’s geological history.
Here’s a beautiful matched pair of emeralds that we put together for a customer requesting emerald studs. What a lucky lady!
Color of an Emerald
Color is the most important factor when picking out an emerald. The finest color for emeralds is described as a deep, intense velvety shade of green. According to the book “Gems and Their Lure and Lore”, emeralds have “a brilliancy surpassing all other green gems.” At Market Square Jewelers, we travel to Colombia on frequent buying trips, where we examine over 100 emeralds for every one gem we bring back for our collection. When trying to determine the source of your emerald, keep in mind that appearance is often associated with mine location. Emeralds from Colombia, highly coveted and considered to be some of the world’s finest, often have a bluish green to pure green hue. Other sources of emeralds are Brazil, Zambia, Afghanistan and Russia.
This antique mounting dating back to the mid 1800s came to us with a center stone that was scratched and damaged. We replaced it with this stunning Colombian emerald pear shape. Such a STUNNING ring. Shop our emerald rings here.
Emerald in History
With a long history, Emeralds are well known throughout ancient lore. Once believed to cure diseases like cholera and malaria, Rome’s Pliny the Elder described the use of emerald by early lapidaries, who “have no better method of restoring their eyes than by looking at the emerald, its soft, green color comforting and removing their weariness.” They are also believed to protect one from natural disasters, from snakes, from child bearing problems, and from traveling problems. Emerlds allegedly simulate the creative side and strengthen the power of one’s memory.
We find that emerald looks stunning against rose gold. Here we’ve paired a elongated emerald in a Victorian rose gold mounting.
Wearability and Durability
We are often asked if emeralds are too delicate to wear on a regular basis. If treated with appropriate care, emeralds can be worn for a lifetime. We recommend you don’t wear your emeralds around any strong household cleaning products. In our shop, we don’t use traditional jewelry cleaner with an emerald, nor do we recommend putting them in an ultrasonic cleaner or using hard chemicals. We find the best way to clean your emerald is with a bowl of warm water and a drop of mild cleanser, like dish or hand soap.
To shop the emerald jewelry that we have for sale, click here.