May, the month of Emeralds
Want to see into the future, have better vision, strengthen your memory, or become an eloquent speaker? An Emerald it is.
A vivid green is what makes us think of Spring arising – in the Northern Hemisphere of course, but let’s just go with it. As the gem of spring, the Emerald is the perfect choice as the birthstone for the month of May. Not only that, but it is also the gem of the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
Ever wonder how it gets its green colour, what its value is, or why there are tiny inclusions inside of them? Well, allow me to tell you all about it.
What gives the Emerald its fascinating and rich green colour are trace amounts of chromium and vanadium in the mineral beryl; this is also what makes it one of the world’s most sought-after gems. What gives it a bluish tint is the presence of iron.
The value of an emerald is mainly based on its colour as well as its purity. Emeralds with a medium to medium-dark tones and that are blueish-green to green are actually the most valuable.
In as early as 3500BC, the first known Emerald mines were worked south of Cairo in Egypt – also called Cleopatra’s mines. Pharaoh Cleopatra was passionate about Emeralds. Of course, she is the one who found the Cleopatra Emerald. She had it split down the middle to give the other half to Marc Antony, the roman politician. Antony went off to battle and died there, while Cleopatra, who kept the other half, had also died. The Emerald was later discovered in her tomb in one of her treasure chambers and sold to the highest bidder. Antony’s Emerald was never found.
In the 1500s in Colombia, Spanish conquistadors discovered Emeralds, which are considered as the most valuable still to this day.
You may have noticed in our Instagram video (https://www.instagram.com/reel/CdbHYHfKCI2/?hl=en), that an Emerald is seldom eye clean – normally, they contain a variety of inclusions which is used to identify their country of origin. A Colombian Emerald is identified by cubic pyrite and white calcite inclusions along fractures, while Sandawanan (Zimbabwean) Emeralds are identified by needle-like inclusions of tremolite. Jewellers would sometimes refer to these inclusions as Jardin, which is French for “garden”, since these inclusions often look moss or tree-like. Obviously, the larger the abundance of inclusions, the weaker the brilliance and the lower the value.
Enhancements and synthetics
Sorry to burst any Emvious bubbles, but the majority of Emeralds have been enhanced. This means that they are, for example, oiled to improve their colour and clarity, or resin is used to fill fractures to make inclusions less visible. These enhancements must be disclosed to potential buyers.
In addition, Emeralds have been synthesised (or man-made) since the beginning of the 1900s. These Emeralds that are created by using hydrothermal flame fusion and flux-grown processes usually have a lower value but are of better clarity and colour than that of a natural Emerald.
Lore and mysticism
So, what is all the fuss about, Miss Cleopatra? It used to be believed that the owner of an Emerald would be able to see into the future, become an eloquent speaker, or strengthen his or her memory. Since green used to be regarded as the colour most beneficial to sight, people would actually place Emeralds on their eyelids to improve their vision.
The soothing green colour of the Emerald was thought to be restful to strained eyes – many gem cutters used to occupy their workbenches with Emeralds as to rest their eyes on them after weary hours of working on other gems.
Riches, power, and eloquence is the promise of the Emerald as talisman. Not only this, but Arab, Hindu, and Spanish physicians used these sought-after gems to protect against poison, infection, dysentery, and even demonic possession.
Is it worth it to be emvious? In our opinion, yes. That is, for one that is worth the spend. As mentioned, an Emerald’s value is manly based on its colour, and, for larger gems, its purity. Another factor that influences price are common treatments, such as oiling, mentioned earlier.
A brighter Emerald with better green coloration and inclusions not directly in the centre of the stone will be priced much higher as one not as richly coloured with centre inclusions.
In addition, an Emerald that is untreated, but still look like an oiled counterpart or is slightly more included can also command a more incredible price – sometimes even ten to hundreds of thousands of dollars for small carat weights.
Finally, the origin of an Emerald impacts its value, basically since it is a form of brand recognition. Colombia is known for providing the best quality of Emeralds, which is why it tends to be more expensive.
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Heist Society Wiki, 2022. The Cleopatra Emerald. Heist Society Wiki. [Online]. Available at: https://heistsociety.fandom.com/wiki/The_Cleopatra_Emerald [Accessed: 13 May 2022].
Braid, F. 2022. Emerald Symbolism. International Gem Society. [Online]. Available at: https://www.gemsociety.org/article/history-legend-emerald-gems-yore/#:~:text=Emeralds%20as%20Mystical%20Talismans,ability%20to%20predict%20future%20events [Accessed: 16 May 2022].
The Natural Emerald Company. 2022. Price of an Emerald. The Natural Emerald Company. [Online]. Available at: https://emeralds.com/education/price-of-an-emerald/ [Accessed: 16 May 2022].
Prins, P. 2019. Gems and Jewellery: The South African Handbook. Benmore: Isikhova Publishing and Communications.
Krzemnicki, M.S. 2017. Emeralds and the Saga of Cleaning and Filling Fissures. SSEF, February 2017. [Online]. Available at: https://www.ssef.ch/emeralds-and-the-saga-of-cleaning-and-filling-fissures/ [Accessed 17 May 2022].