18 October 2019
Above: Minor Oil Columbian Emeralds from Orient Atelier
Emerald’s lush green seduces, excites, soothes and captivates.
Emerald is one of the Big Three precious stones and the most famous member of the Beryl gemstone species. Wear emerald to mark a beautiful celebration – be it an engagement, a May birthday or a simply a milestone met.
As part of our #GemGeek series we introduce 5 facts about this well loved gemstone.
1. A Classic through the ages
The name Emerald is derived from Greek smaragdos which means green stone.
Widely revered since antiquity the Incas had already been using emeralds in their jewellery and religious ceremonies for 500 years. Today it remains a widely popular and loved investment gemstone. Its green is incomparable. Other green gems, like periodot and tourmaline, simply pale in comparison to the emerald’s lush seductive green.
2. Hardness 7.5 or 8 / 10
Emerald comes from the Beryl species of gemstones. Deep green beryls are called Emerald, blue beryls Aquamarine.
All emeralds are brittle and combined with internal stress from the inclusions, sensitive to pressure. It scores a 7.5 or 8/10 on a hardness scale called MOHS scale. Care must be taken when setting and wearing them.
3. Mines matter
Emeralds are mined mainly in Columbia, Brazil and Zambia. Out of the top three sources the finest specimens are mined in Columbia and these are the most well sought-after, expensive and treasured emeralds.
Physical properties including colour and quality differ according to the source area.
4. Jardin – What’s that?
You often see emeralds clouded with inclusions also known as Jardin (French for garden).
These inclusions are appreciated by collectors and gemmologists alike because they are like the gem’s unique fingerprints and evidence if a stone is natural, synthetic (lab-grown) or imitation. Experts can even tell the country of an emerald’s origin by studying its Jardin.
Only the finest and rarest specimens of natural emerald are transparent. These collectors’ items fetch millions at international auctions.
5. How to buy an Emerald
Similar to buying Sapphires, your budget, colour preference and treatment preference play crucial roles.
Always view a stone in real life.
Look for stones with an even colour distribution, good tone and a strong saturation. View the gem in the daytime and observe the stone’s inclusions and lustre under daylight if possible.
Natural vs Lab-Grown
Lab-Grown emeralds exist in the market alongside natural emeralds that form in the Earth. Lab-Grown emeralds are cheaper as they are produced under artificial conditions. If in doubt, always request for the gemstone to be assessed by an independent and professional gemmological laboratory and buy your stones from a reputable jeweller.
Decide what quality of emerald and treatments are acceptable to you.
Emeralds are typically treated with special oils to hide very fine hairline fractures and faults within the stone. Oiling is an accepted form of treatment as emeralds are typically heavily included (read section on Jardin above). An emerald may be graded Moderate, Minor or Insignificant oil according to the extent of oil treatment it receives.
Stay away from inclusions that are large and obviously visible like splotches and bubbles. Due to an emerald’s brittle nature always get a professional opinion from a trusted jeweller. When examined under a jeweller’s loupe the jeweller can determine where the inclusions are and if they will cause the emerald to fracture when set or worn.
Experience is key when setting emeralds. Always set your emerald with a trusted jeweller who has an experienced craftsman. Our heart breaks whenever we see a beautiful gem cracked or chipped due to the setting process. Pay a premium to protect your investment.
If your budget allows we recommend a quality certified Minor Oil emerald.