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Emerald Buying Guide
As with all gemstones, the factors that come into play are color, cut clarity and carat. Of these, in an emerald, color is extremely important, and is broken down into three considerations: hue (the basic color of the stone, including any tints other than green); tone (the "depth" of color, ranging from "light" to "dark"); and saturation (the purity of the green and the level of other hues). The more vivacious the green, the more the emerald is valued.
Most emeralds have numerous flaws, or "inclusions", which weaken their structure. The flaws and inclusions in an emerald is a hallmark of most natural emeralds, and generally the best colored stones are sometimes the most included. The types of flaws found are cracks and fissures and the inclusions can be solid, liquid and gaseous. These flaws and inclusions in emeralds are probably a symbol of its turbulent genesis. The flaws could have been produced due to the tension involved in creating the necessary geological conditions conducive to their formation. In spite of these inclusions emeralds rank among the top five gemstones in the world, which are diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire and pearls. Due to their extreme rarity it is common for the price of a top-quality emerald to be higher than that of a diamond of the same weight.
Fissures, or cracks, are common in emeralds. Try to avoid those that are too deep, as they make it more susceptible to splitting. However, due to the quality control at Angara, our collection consists of only fine emeralds that are not brittle in nature.
It is better to go for higher quality Emeralds, because both inclusions and lower color are more noticeable in Emeralds than in other cuts.
Emeralds are very often bezel set. They look fabulous with diamonds or white sapphires as these off set its beauty.
The Origin of Emerald
In the ancient times, emeralds were mined in Egypt, Austria and present-day Afghanistan. The finest emeralds have traditionally come from Colombia; both the Incas and Aztecs mined rich emerald deposits in the rugged Andes Mountains. Russia's Ural Mountains were also an important source of emeralds. The Russian rulers' emeralds make an interesting read. Brazil is by far the world's largest producer of emerald, with a wide range of quality. Other sources for the stone include Afghanistan, Australia, India, Pakistan, the United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Now, Colombia is one of the most popular sources of fine emeralds.
Colombian emeralds are prized for their vivid green color which is reasonably pure. The rare Trapiche emeralds that have six rays emanating from the centre are also from Colombia.
Zambian emeralds are renowned for beautiful, deep emerald green color and good transparency. In tones, these are darker than their Colombian counterparts, and often carry a blue undertone. The emeralds from Zimbabwe have an intense green color with a delicate yellowish-green hue. Brazilian emeralds boast of beauties such as cat's eyes emerald and star emeralds with a six spoke star.
Due to their characteristic inclusions, cutting an emerald is a challenge for every craftsman. The Emerald Cut is rectangular with cut corners. It is a step cut as opposed to a brilliant cut. The facets are broad with flat planes resembling the steps of a stair. Clear design of this rectangular or square cut with its smoothened corners brings out the beauty of this valuable gemstone to the full, at the same time protecting it from mechanical strain or accidental impact. Some of the best known emerald jewelry features them in this cut.
Emerald Treatment & Enhancement
Like most gemstones in the market today, emeralds are usually treated in some way to remove surface flaws and enhance color. The industry practice for treatment (and that which is considered standard by AGTA) is "oiling". This term refers to the practice of immersing emeralds in a colorless oil or resin. Often this is done using a vacuum chamber to assist penetration. Non-standard treatments go beyond this to using green colored oils and hardened, epoxy-like resins. The oil hardens and strengthens the stone, and improves its green color as well. These treatments dramatically improve the appearance of the gems, but necessitate special care in cleaning and setting.
As mentioned, all emeralds are oiled. Steam cleaners, solvents and ultrasonics can remove the oils, making inclusions which had barely been visible stand out in sharp relief. Luckily, it is possible to have emeralds re-oiled. Never use harsh detergents and or any cleaning solutions that contain petroleum distillates. Avoid soaking your emerald gems and jewelry in water for long, and only use something like an old soft toothbrush (without toothpaste). A warm moist cloth may also be used to clean emerald jewelry. Beryls, the class to which emeralds belong are good jewelry stones, with a hardness of up to 8 on Mohs' scale and no troublesome cleavages. Because of the inclusions, emeralds are generally more fragile than other beryls and must be treated more gently.
Emerald in History
Known by various names like emeraud in French, Smaragd in German and esmerelda in Portuguese, this rare and precious gemstone enjoys a repute which is cut apart from the rest. Cleopatra's enchantment with emeralds is one of the most celebrated gemstone love stories. The color of this gemstone is so intensely vivid that an emerald is one of the few gemstones to have a color named after it - Emerald Green. Pliny the Elder, (AD 29-73) described the emerald in just 3 words, "Nothing greens greener". More recent history begins in South America in 1568 when the Spanish Conquistadors began mining emeralds at the Muzo mine, still the world's largest known deposit. It took many years for the Conquistadors to try and force the Incas to reveal the location of the hidden tunnels. Finally the Spanish found them on their own and began mining and producing for the Spanish crown. As with diamonds, few famous large emeralds around the world are known by their names. The two most famous are the Devonshire Emerald and the Patricia Emerald. The Devonshire Emerald was given to the sixth Duke of Devonshire by Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil in 1831. The Patricia Emerald, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, weighs 630 carats. A Russian emerald in the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History weighs 1,965 carats.
The largest collection of emeralds is said to be the crown jewels of Iran with pieces in a belt, the Pahlavi Crown, necklaces and the Nadir Throne itself with between 1500-2000 carats of emeralds. The Crown of the Andes is probably the most famous single piece of emerald jewelry with 453 stones (1,521 carats.) including the Atahualpa Emerald (45 carats.) The Crown, Fashioned from a solid block of gold, was made in 1593 for the Madonna statue in Colombia. Briefly captured by English pirates in 1650, it was recovered and became a prize of revolutionary war for independence from Spain waged by Simon Bolivar in 1812. Its present location is unknown.
In scriptures of the Hindu Religion, these precious gems are mentioned for their mental and physical healing properties. In Islamic religion, green is the holy color. One of the world famous emeralds is the mogul emerald, which has holy text inscribed on it. It weighs over 200 carats.
According to the Catholic Church, green is the most intrinsic of liturgical colors.
Lab Created Emeralds
Lab created, (as the name suggests) is a process in which the gem is created through man-made processes. The deep earth conditions are simulated in a laboratory with certain elements, and it results in these sparkling gems. In keeping with FTC guidelines, at Angara we disclose all lab created specimens.
Some of the first lab created emeralds on the market weren't very successful, because they were so clean. The sophistication of today's consumer has led to a trend toward more naturally included looking lab created emeralds. Luckily, there are signs regarding the types of inclusions in a gem which conclusively verify natural versus lab origin. Within the last fifty years two major processes have been developed to produce lab created emeralds. If you see man-made emeralds you might wonder why they are so costly compared to CZs or some lab created sapphires. Both the flux and the hydrothermal methods of production require costly equipment and are energy intensive. They take a long time to produce and have a low yield of cuttable gems.
Notable Emerald Cut Engagement Rings
- Camilla Bowle's Emerald Diamond Ring.
- Paris Hilton's Emerald Ring.
- Melania Trump's Emerald Cut Engagement Ring.
- Nicole Richie's Engagement Ring.
Emerald is the birthstone for those born in May and the zodiac sign Taurus. Emerald is anniversary gift for the 20th and the 35th wedding anniversary.
When choosing an emerald, the most important value factor to consider is color. The vivid green color of an emerald is so prized that visible inclusions are accepted in these gems in return for the incomparable color. As a general rule the more vivacious the green, the more valuable the emerald.
Since emeralds naturally occur with inclusions, you should make sure that fissures and inclusions do not go too deep into the stone such that it might be weakened enough to break if it were hit accidentally. However, due to the high quality standard at Angara, our collection consists of only fine emeralds that are not brittle in nature.
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