As the birthstone for May and a symbol of rebirth, emeralds have been prized for their beauty since antiquity. Emerald, derived from the word “smaragdus,” means, quite literally, “green” in Greek. The emerald was mined in Egypt as early as 330 BC, but some estimate that the oldest emeralds are 2.97 billion years old. The Egyptians used emeralds both in jewelry and in their elaborate burials, often burying emeralds with monarchs as symbols of protection. These gorgeous green gems were also worn as cherished jewelry in ancient Greece and Rome. Europeans were introduced to the beauty of emeralds in the 1500s when the Spanish invaded South America and discovered the emerald gem through the Incas. The Muzo Indians of Colombia had well-hidden emerald mines that took the Spanish conquistadors nearly twenty years to find. During that same period, emeralds were cherished by the Mogul emperors of India, who believed that the gems were talismans that offered the protection of the gods.
Emeralds are found all over the world, including Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald, however, is limited. It is common to heat treat emeralds to improve clarity.
THE FOUR Cs
Like the diamond and other gemstones, emeralds can be judged according to the 4Cs: color, cut, clarity and carat weight. Emeralds are often treated by oil and by Opticon, a resin filler. Both degrade over time. It is highly advisable to use a trusted AGS or IGS certified jeweler to help you make an informed investment.
Color is the most important aspect effecting the value of the emerald. Color should be evenly distributed and not too dark. Rare emeralds will appear as a deep green-blue, while lighter colored gems are more common and less expensive.
Cut is very important on an emerald because the proper cut will maximize the desirable green color. A popular cut is the emerald shape. This cut brightens the stone and adds sparkle while minimizing inclusions or fissures.
Like other types of beryl, emeralds often have inclusions that are visible without a microscope. Inclusions are so common to emerald that they do not greatly affect price. The value lies in the gem’s color.
There is a wide price range between smaller carat sized emeralds and larger ones. Some of the most famous emeralds in private collections or museums weigh hundreds of carats and are considered to be priceless.
Like many gemstones, emeralds have a multitude of meanings stemming from different cultures and beliefs. The emerald is the stone of the goddess Venus and associated with romance. Emeralds are said to bring passion, bliss, and unconditional love! Legend has it that wearing emeralds can give you the ability to foresee the future and see the truth. It has also been believed that emerald has the power to cure disease and protect against evil. Emerald was thought to cure stomach problems, control epilepsy, and stop bleeding. It was also thought to be able to ward off panic and keep the wearer relaxed and serene. Today, emerald is a symbol of loyalty, new beginnings, peace and security, making it not only a beautiful gem to wear, but also a meaningful gift to be treasured by the receiver.
Famous Fans of Emerald
Throughout history, the rich and famous have appreciated emerald. Cleopatra had such a passion for emerald jewelry that she claimed ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign. Elizabeth Taylor, while filming he movie “Cleopatra,” acquired some legendary emeralds from Richard Burton, purchased from the famous Bvlgari jewelers in Rome. Her famous emerald pendant sold for $6.5 million in 2011. Glamorous first lady Jackie Kennedy wore an emerald and diamond engagement ring. In 1936 King Edward VIII of England proposed to his divorced American love Wallis Simpson with a nineteen-carat emerald ring engraved with the message “We are ours now.” The ensuing scandal of their relationship caused him to abdicate the throne, making the couple the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Today, Angelina Jolie may be emeralds’ most famous advocate. She frequently wears these gorgeous green gems on the red carpet. Other prominent Hollywood stars, including Halle Berry, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde, frequently wear emerald jewelry.
Caring for Emeralds
Only use mild soap and warm water to clean emeralds, and not techniques involving steam, chemicals or high heat, because they can cause the gem to fracture. Emeralds are generally treated with cedar oil to minimize the appearance of their inclusions. When done right, this does not affect the way light interacts with the gem or change its color in any way.
When it is time to add emerald jewelry to your jewelry wardrobe, our qualified gemologists can help you make the right selection. We carry emerald jewelry designs, as well as loose gems. Visit us at 11219 South Dixie Highway in Pinecrest Village, Miami, Florida. We are open Monday – Saturday, 10am to 6pm, and have plenty of free parking!