Treasured for at least 4,000 years by different civilizations all around the world, emerald is said to quicken the intelligence as well as the heart. Legend gives its owner the gift of eloquence. Emerald was one of the first precious stones to be mined and fashioned by the ancient Egyptians,at what is generally accepted to be the world’s oldest source for this gem, an area now called Cleopatra’s Mines.
In the Vedas, the ancient sacred writings of Hinduism, it is said that the emerald could give mental power and wisdom, and could make the wearer a very persuasive and charismatic speaker. It does not come as a surprise, then, that in ancient India, the treasure chests of Indian Maharajas and Maharanis contained the most wonderful emeralds. Colombia, since the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores, has been the “Mecca for emeralds”, and it continues to be the country where the most beautiful, most valuable and prized stones are found.
What to look for in an Emerald?
- The most well-known fact is that an emerald will always show visible inclusions, in fact any emerald without inclusions is suspected to be synthetic or imitation. Emerald inclusions, which are caused by calcite deposits are called “jardin” a French term meaning garden, because they resemble the intricate pattern of a summer garden.
- In an emerald, color is paramount. Its green is incomparable! And as an ancient Roman historian said “no green soothes to the eye as the green of emeralds”. The finest have a deep, intense, glowing green, and associated with a good, crystal clarity and a decent carat weight.
- Faceted emeralds come in a variety of shapes: rounds, pears, ovals, emerald-cuts, etc. But it is the “emerald cut” or octagon that is the most popular and classical shape for emeralds. The reason why this shape is so “popular” has to do with the natural shape of the rough crystal and its cleavage. Following in order of popularity or better of availability, pear shapes, ovals, marquises, rounds. Round shapes over 1/2 carat in weight are very rare and always command premiums.
- Cabochon cuts are the oldest way to cut emeralds before the world knew faceting methods. As in facet grade material, also cabochon emeralds come in different grades.
- All emeralds are oil treated when they are cut to reduce the likelihood of fracture. This treatment is perfectly acceptable in the gem trade. However,
coloring emeralds with green substances is unacceptable, unless disclosed.