St. Hildegard of Bingen stated that, "All the green of nature is concentrated within the Emerald", symbolising birth, growth, joie de vivre, compassion, harmony and justice.
Historical and Cultural Significance : The name Emerald was first translated from Sanskrit as Marakata, meaning "the green of growing things." It is believed to have been derived from an ancient Persian word that translated to the Greek as Smaragdus, meaning "green stone", and evolving over time with the Old French or Vulgar Latin versions, Esmeraulde, Esmaralda or Esmaraldus became the current name, Emerald. Emerald is one of four "precious" gemstones including Diamond, Ruby and Sapphire.
The Emerald is called the "Stone of Successful Love," and represents unity, compassion and unconditional love. It upholds friendship, balance between partners, and is known for giving domestic bliss, contentment and loyalty. It was associated with Goddess Venus for its ability to insure security in love. In ancient times for a loyal lover, the gem would glow a beautiful green colour, but if the person was disloyal, it would turn a different, lifeless colour.
Emerald increases focus and intent, activating psychic abilities and opening clairvoyance. Traditionally it was used against enchantment and spells. Emeralds were kept as talismans by Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, and the Mughal Kings of India to ward off the evil eye. The 1st century Egyptian magician, Hermes Trismegistos, was said to have carved on a pure Emerald tablet words that held the key to magic: "As above, so below", making Emerald a magical stone, and connecting Cosmic and Earthly realms, by conveying thoughts and desires into realism.
Emerald has been revered in many cultures for over six thousand years, and sold in the markets of Babylon as early as 4,000 B.C. It was worshipped by the Incas, believed by the Chaldeans to contain a goddess, and has been honoured in all major religions for its spiritual power and beauty. Emerald was considered a symbol of eternal life in ancient Egypt, a gift of Thoth, the God of Wisdom, and was a favourite jewel of Queen Cleopatra. The mines of Upper Egypt are some of the oldest in the world and were called Cleopatra's mines for her love of the stone.
The emerald's healing powers have been used to cure colic, burns, ulcers, headaches, tension, influenza, epilepsy, high blood pressure, heart disorders, neuralgia, cancer, skin disorders, dysentery, syphilis, fevers, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, asthma and anaemia. The emerald was also once prized as an antidote in cases of poisoning and even today, the powder of inferior quality emeralds is used in traditional medicines in China for snake bites.
Legends say that the Holy Grail was made from solid emerald. In ancient Egypt an Emerald was placed upon the index finger of the corpse of young people as a symbol of eternal life. Egyptians of the High Empire and Greeks used the emerald to increase vision, by sticking them in the corners of the eyes. Transparent Emeralds were polished and used as a magnifying glass, and developed into the very first eyeglasses. The Emperor Nero was renowned for observing the exploits of gladiators through an eyeglass of Emerald.
The Roman historian, Pliny, tells of a Jewish tradition that if a serpent fixes its eyes on an Emerald, it becomes blind. He also tells of a sculptured marble lion with Emerald eyes, placed on the tomb of King Hermia on the island of Cypress near the fisheries. These Emeralds were so brilliant, that their light frightened the fish away forcing the fishermen, to remove the Emeralds and replaced them with other stones, as it was affecting their livelihood.
The famous goblet "San Graal" of King Arthur's time was made of a single precious Emerald, believed to be sent from Heaven and endowed with the power of preserving chastity, and prolonging life. This goblet was believed to have been brought by angels, and used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.
Emerald is the birthstone of May and June, representing the Zodiacs Gemini, Cancer and Virgo. It's also the gemstone of the twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries.
According to Vedic Astrology, Emerald is also known as 'Panna' and represents Mercury, which emits astuteness to the world. This gem provides strength and protects the wearer from the ill effects of Mercury. They should be worn as rings on the left hand. In Hindu mythology, 'Panna' beckons the Hindu goddess Maa Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom and intellect and is known to augment awareness and intelligence in students and creative people. It is believed to help in child birth if tied around the waist of the woman. It is considered a 'cold' stone like Sapphire, as against the 'Hot' gemstones like Diamond and Ruby.
India's most famous temple, the Minakshi Amman temple in Madurai, lodges its chief deity, Goddess Minakshi whose idol is made of emerald, possibly carved out of a single Emerald.
In some legends the Holy Grail is described as being fashioned from an emerald. In China, Thursday was the day for wearing green and emeralds for good luck. Emeralds have also adorned Russian crown jewels. The Irani State Treasure contains an exquisite Emerald tiara of ex-Empress Farah. Emperor Shah Jahan, one of the Mughal Kings of India who built the Taj Mahal, loved Emeralds so much that he had sacred texts inscribed into them and used these gemstones as talismans. The ancient writings of The Vedas, the sacred text of Hinduism, testify to Emerald as being the "gem of good luck and well-being".
Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, seized huge pieces of Emerald from the Aztecs and brought them back with him. However, as one of his ships were shipwrecked, delicately carved Emeralds in the shape of flowers, fish and a rare Emerald, the size of a man's palm, were lost forever.
Emerald is a most valued gemstone of the mineral Beryl coloured green due to trace amounts of chromium and vanadium found in them. Its beautiful green colour, combined with its durability and rarity, makes it one of the most expensive gemstones. Emeralds are known for their flaws and flawless stones are a rarity, and noted for their great value. Traders at times prefer Emeralds with minute flaws called 'jardin' over flawless Emeralds, as this proves the stone's authenticity. Though Emerald is a hard gem, it is quite brittle. It may develop cracks if hit hard or when subjected to extreme temperature change. Emerald flaws like fissures are often concealed by treating it with oil or synthetic lubricants to mask them, hence the gems should never be cleaned with an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner, or washed with soap as such practices remove the oiling treatment and may expose the hidden cracks. All Emerald jewellery maybe re-oiled by local jewellers to avoid any damage.
Emeralds are graded according to colour and clarity. Both are necessary conditions with a quality emerald possessing a pure verdant green colour and a high degree of transparency to be considered a top gem. Gems are graded on a four step scale; none, minor, moderate and highly enhanced. These categories reflect levels of enhancement to hide flaws. A gem graded none on the enhancement scale may exhibit visible inclusions. Some laboratories consider the mere presence of oil or polymers to constitute improvement or ignore their traces if the presence doesn't affect the look of the emerald.
Since a vast majority of emeralds are treated and appear as visually similar, they may actually have been differently treated and hence, a buyer purchasing an expensive emerald is advised to seek a treatment report from the gemmological laboratory to check its market value. All factors being the same, a high quality emerald with moderate enhancement costs less than an identical stone graded as 'none'.
Some of the oldest reported emeralds are 2.97 Billion Years of Age discovered in South Africa. The first known emerald mines were in discovered in Egypt, which started working around 3500BC. Emeralds from Zimbabwe were already growing 2600 million years ago, whilst some specimens from Pakistan, are merely 9 million years young.
Russia is a significant producer and supplier of synthetic gemstones like emerald, sapphire, diamonds and alexandrite. The production of synthetic emeralds was first started in the 1960s in Europe.
Synthetic emeralds are often known as "created emeralds", as their chemical, physical and gemmological composition is the same as their natural counterparts.
A cutter must consider the raw stone's depth of colour, durability, and inclusions when cutting the emerald. Mistakes can cause weight loss, which reduces the value of the potentially valuable emerald. Four features of emerald crystals make them challenging to cut. First, nearly all emeralds have significant fractures, sometimes called fissures. A cutter must design the cut to lessen the effect of those fractures on the finished stone.
The second factor is also related to the inherent fractures: Emeralds are more brittle than a ruby or sapphire hence it makes them more vulnerable to damage during cutting, polishing, and setting, or even during careless daily wear. The Emerald cut has been designed to protect against damage because the weak corners are faceted and provide a comparative safety for the prongs.
Thirdly, colour is important in establishing an emerald's value; therefore, the cut emerald must maximize the effect of hue, tone, and saturation. The cutter can affect colour by adjusting an emerald's proportions and number of facets. The cutter can darken a pale coloured stone with a deep cut, a small table, and fewer facets, or lighten a dark stone with a shallow cut, a large table, and extra facets.
Fourth, the bluish green to yellowish green dichroism of many emerald crystals inspires the cutter to orient the table so it's perpendicular to the stone's length. That way, the more apparent colour in the cut gem which is bluish green becomes dominant and increases the emerald's value. Colombian emeralds generally pose a challenge due to inclusions in them like tiny crystals of rock salt, liquid, bubble of gas and the distribution of colouring agents during their formation. Its colour is more intense near the surface. Without careful planning and cutting, the finished stone might become lighter in colour than the original stone.
Emerald Colour The most desirable emerald colours are bluish green to verdant green, with vivid colour saturation and a tone that's not too dark. Prized emeralds are highly transparent and their colour is evenly distributed, with no visible colour zoning. If the hue is too yellowish or too bluish, the stone may not necessarily be an emerald. Colombian emeralds are warmer and a more intense pure green colour, shining, unimpaired by any kind of bluish tint.
Emeralds are made up of beryllium aluminium silicate mineral coloured by trace amounts of chromium and/ or vanadium that determine the green colour. The presence or absence of each and their relative amounts determine the exact colour for an emerald crystal. Emeralds occur in hues ranging from yellow-green to blue-green, but the main colour is green. The finest emeralds are nearly 75% deep in shade on a scale where 0% tone would be colourless and 100% would be opaque black. A fine emerald should be well saturated having a bright hue. Grey is the normal saturation modifier found in emerald; a greyish-green colour is considered as dull, and medium to dark in tone.he effect of hue, tone, and saturation. The cutter can affect colour by adjusting an emerald's proportions and number of facets. The cutter can darken a pale coloured stone with a deep cut, a small table, and fewer facets, or lighten a dark stone with a shallow cut, a large table, and extra facets.
The most desirable emerald colours are bluish green to verdant green, with vivid colour saturation and a tone that's not too dark. Prized emeralds are highly transparent and their colour is evenly distributed, with no visible colour zoning. If the hue is too yellowish or too bluish, the stone may not necessarily be an emerald. Colombian emeralds are warmer and a more intense pure green colour, shining, unimpaired by any kind of bluish tint.
Zambian emeralds are said to have a cool, more bluish green colour. Zimbabwe's famous Sandawana Mine produces small emeralds in a vivacious, intense green colour having a delicate yellowish-green tinge. Brazil's gemstone mine Nova Era also produces emeralds in beautiful green tones and supplies the rare cat's eyes emeralds and six spiked star emeralds.
In expensive coloured stones like ruby, sapphire and emerald, transparency and clarity are closely linked. This is especially true for emeralds. Emeralds have numerous inclusions and surface breaking fissures giving the stones a mossy appearance. The emerald is graded by the naked eye and hence, if an emerald has no visible inclusions assuming normal visual acuity it is considered flawless and priceless. Stones that lack surface breaking fissures are extremely rare and therefore almost all emeralds are treated or "oiled", to enhance their clarity. These imperfections are unique to each emerald and can be used to identify a particular stone. Eye-clean emeralds of a vivid green colour with less than 15% of any combination with either blue or yellow colour having a medium to dark tone commands the highest prices. The gem trade usually accepts eye-visible inclusions in higher-quality emeralds. Nevertheless when the inclusions have a negative effect on transparency and clarity, they tend to reduce the emerald's value.
Fashioned emeralds come in many sizes with many emeralds exhibited in museums and private collections weighing hundreds of carats or as tiny emeralds that weigh fractions of a carat. The smallest sizes can range from 1 mm to 5 mm, with weights from 0.02 to 0.50 carat, while 1 to 5 carat stones are popular as centre stones. Impressive pieces of jewellery can include emeralds that weigh over 20 carats. Depending on the colour and clarity, the price of emerald can rise dramatically as the size increases.
The Sandawana mine in Zimbabwe is known for its tiny and intensely green coloured emeralds. They are as small as 1 mm square with the mine's cut stones averaging about 0.05 to 0.25 carat, and rarely weigh more than 1.50 carats.
Due to the non-uniformity in emeralds they are cut into cabochons, rather than faceted shapes. Faceted Emeralds are most commonly given the Oval cut, or the signature Emerald cut, or a Rectangular cut with facets around the top edge. The best emerald crystals are stunning flat-topped green hexagonal columns that seem beautiful as faceted stones.
The "Trapiche Emerald", is characterized by star-shaped rays that emanate from the centre of the stone in a hexagonal pattern. These rays appear like asterism, due to inclusions of black carbon impurities that form a star-shaped pattern. The Trapiche Emeralds are found in the Boyaca Emerald mining district of Colombia, and are cut into cabochons.
Being sensitive to pressure and banging, the popular 'Emerald cut' was developed specifically for this gem to reduce the amount of pressure during cutting. Though the hardness protects the emerald to a large extent from scratches, its brittleness and fissures can make cutting, setting and cleaning rather difficult. Cutting emeralds becomes a special challenge for a skilled gem cutter, because of the high value of the raw crystals, and frequent inclusions. Hence, the cutter's have developed the emerald cut and created a clear design of a rectangular or square shape with bevelled corners bringing out the beauty of the emerald to the fullest, and at the same time protecting it from mechanical strain. A square cut to the emerald emphasizes the richness of green colour by leading the eye into it rather than deflecting attention from it. Buyers actually prefer the off shades of green in an emerald and its imperfections. Other classical shapes for the emerald that contain a large number of inclusions consist of a gently rounded cabochon, or emerald beads which are popular in India.
The green variety of Beryl is called Emerald however: the mineral Beryl also comes in other colours used as gems, such as Blue Aquamarine, Golden Beryl, Yellow Heliodor, Pink Morganite, Red Beryl or Bixbite, and the colourless variety known as Goshenite. Other gemstones confused with Emerald are Chrome Diopside which is much softer and Tsavorite which can be confused with Emerald, but for its optical properties that are different. Like all gemstones fakes and mistaken identities exist for the emerald as well. Two pale coloured stones are glued together with a deep green paste, creating a stone resembling Emerald. Faceted green glass may be coated with a hard substance to mask its low hardness and sold as Emerald. The dyed green glass is considered a major Emerald simulator. The colour of green glass and emerald though identical, differ due to their physical and optical properties and can be easily distinguished between. Some fraudulent names given to the green glass used as Emerald are: Broghton Emerald, Endura Emerald, Ferrer's Emerald, Medina Emerald, Mount St. Helen's Emerald, and Spanish Emerald.
There are special names given to Emeralds based on their properties and origin. These include the Brazilian Emerald-Emerald from Brazil which may also refer to the green Tourmaline from Brazil, Cat's Eye Emerald-Emerald exhibiting cat's eye effect that is very rare, and only exists on paler Emeralds, Colombian Emerald-Emerald from Colombia usually regarded being of the highest quality. Star Emerald-Synonym of Trapiche Emerald. Zambian Emerald-Emerald from Zambia having a dark green colour and transparency.
Synthetic Emeralds are also sold to buyers without them knowing that the stone is a 'Created Emerald'. Names of Synthetic emeralds to beware off include; Biron Emerald, Chathan Emerald, Gilson Emerald, Kimberly Emerald, Lennix Emerald, Linde Emerald, Regency Emerald and Zerfass Emerald.
Other gems that impersonate as Emeralds include: African Emerald-Green Fluorite, Bohemian Emerald-Green Fluorite, Cape Emerald- Prehnite, Congo Emerald-Dioptase, Emeraldine-Chalcedony dyed green, Emeraldite-Green Tourmaline, Evening Emerald-Peridot, Indian Emerald-Quartz or Chalcedony dyed green, Lithia Emerald-Hiddenite, Mascot Emerald-Emerald doublet, Night Emerald-Peridot, Oriental Emerald-Green Sapphire, South African Emerald-Green Fluorite, Tecla Emerald-Emerald doublet, Traansvaal Emerald-Green Fluorite and Uralian Emerald-Demantoid Garnet.
The Gachala Emerald one of the largest gem emeralds in the world, at 858 carats (171.6 g) was found in 1967 at La Vega de San Juan mine in Gachala, Colombia. Now it's exhibited at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
The Chalk Emerald is a 37.82 carats (7.564 g) Colombian emerald that belonged to the royal rulers of Baroda State, a princely state in India. The emerald was the centrepiece of an emerald and diamond necklace worn by the Maharani, who passed it down to her son, the Maharajah of Cooch Behar. In the 20th century, the emerald was recut from its original weight and set in a ring designed by Harry Winston, Inc., where it is now surrounded by sixty pear-shaped diamonds, totalling approximately 15 carats (3.0 g). The ring was donated by Mr. and Mrs. O. Roy Chalk to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in 1972 as part of the Smithsonian's National Gem and Mineral Collection.
The Duke of Devonshire Emerald is one of the world's biggest and renowned uncut emeralds, weighing 1,383.93 carats. Originating in the mine at Muzo, Colombia, it was either given or sold by Emperor Pedro I of Brazil to William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1831. It was displayed first at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, and more recently at the Natural History Museum in 2007.
The Mogul Emerald is one of the largest emeralds described by Christie's as :
rectangular-cut, weighing 217.80 carats, with engraved Shi'a invocations in elegant naksh script, dated 1107 A.H (1695-1696 AD), the reverse carved with foliate decoration, the central rosette of a large poppy flower, flanked with a line of three smaller poppy flowers either side, bevelled edges carved with cross pattern incisions and herringbone decoration, each of the four sides drilled for attachments, size 5.2 x 4 x 1.2 cm. Originally mined in Colombia, it is believed to have belonged to one of Emperor Aurangzeb's Shia courtiers or officers since the Mughal rulers were Sunni. It was sold on 27 September 2001 by Christie's for 1,543,750, and as of December 2008, lies in the possession of the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar.
The Bahia Emerald contains the largest single piece ever found. The stone, weighs approximately 840lbs (381kg) containing more than 180,000 carats and originated from Bahia, Brazil with the crystals embedded in host rock. It narrowly escaped flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 during a period of storage in a warehouse in New Orleans. The stone has been valued at some $400 million. It was originally mined in western Bahia, Brazil, and takes its name from Portuguese word baia, meaning 'bay' that was seen by European explorers in the 16th century. After being moved from Brazil to the United States, various attempts have been made to sell it with conflicting claims of ownership for this emerald.
The New York Museum of Natural History has exhibited a cup made of pure emerald belonging to the Moghul Emperor Jehangir, next to 'Patricia', one of the largest Colombian emerald crystals, which weighs 632 carats. The collection of the Bank of Bogota, Colombia, includes five valuable emerald crystals which weigh between 220 and 1796 carats. Stunning emeralds form part of the Iranian National Treasury, adorning, the crown of the former Empress Farah. The Topkapi Palace in Istanbul has exhibited jewellery, writing implements, and daggers, lavishly embedded with emeralds and other gems. Queen Elizabeth II had an amazing collection of emerald jewellery including an emerald crown.
In recent times, actor Marlene Dietrich wore her own collection of dramatic jewellery set with huge cabochon emeralds in many of her movies. Actor Grace Kelly was gifted a 12 carat emerald cut diamond engagement ring by Prince Rainier. Famous actor Elizabeth Taylor's emerald jewellery has been mentioned in National Geographic's emerald story with Richard Burton gifting an emerald and diamond brooch for their engagement, followed by an emerald necklace, earrings, bracelet, and a ring as a wedding present. Some of the emeralds in Taylor's set were given by the Grand Duchess Vladimir in Russia. In 2011, Elizabeth Taylor's emerald pendant alone sold for $6,578,500, a record $280,000 per carat.