Medium Green to Dark Green variety of the mineral Beryl is termed as“Emerald”. Light Green Beryl is not emerald; it is classified as Green Beryl. The name emerald comes from the Greek word ‘smaragdos’ as well as the Old French word ‘esmeralde’, which means ‘green gemstone’.The name emerald was first translated from Sanskrit as “marakata” meaning “the green of growing things.”
The green color of emerald represents the color of life and springtime. Emerald is regarded as the traditional birthstone for May. It is one of the Navagraha stones representing Mercury as per the Hindu rituals.
Emeralds are graded using the 4Cs (Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat). Emeralds with a very high degree of transparency and pure green hues are considered to be a priceless gem.
Emerald Chemical Composition:
- Beryl : Beryllium Aluminum Silicate (Be3Al2SiO6)
* Pure Beryl is colorless in nature
- Emerald : Green
- Green Beryl : Light Green
- Aquamarine : Greenish Blue
- Heliodor : Yellow
- Goshenite : Colorless
- Morganite : Pink
- Bixbite (Rare) : Red
* There are market terms for certain varieties of Beryl which is not mentioned in the list above.
Most Emeralds are found in mines which have hydrothermal (hot water or steam) deposits. Emeralds are also found in eluvia and alluvial deposits.
The finest quality Emeralds are found today in the Muzo and Chivor mines of Columbia. However, many other locations also have fine quality emeralds being found in modern times.
Emeralds are found in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Russia, India, Pakistan, Siberia, South Africa, Madagascar, Australia and Zimbabwe.
Beryl has a hardness of 7.5–8 on the Mohs scale. Most emeralds generally range from good to poor in their toughness i.e. resistance to breakage if they are highly included and can get easily chipped. However, breakage and chipping can be prevented to a certain extent through appropriate jewelry settings and proper care.
The vast majority of emeralds are treated to improve their clarity. The surface reaching fissures are filled with organic a filler. The traditional treatment for emerald is oiling with cedar oil as it has a refractive index that is similar to that. With this process the visibility of surface-reaching fissures reduces. Resin treatment is usually more stable and improves the stability of the stone. In this case though the refractive index is same but under magnification and careful examination the fractures or fissures show colored flashes of light. At times to improve the color of the emerald it may dyed.
Gems are graded for treatments on a four step scale:
- Highly enhanced
It is always recommended to have your gemstone graded and identified by a reputed gemological laboratory.
As emeralds have many inclusions clearer the stone better the clarity and higher the value. The desirable green hues can range from pure green to medium or medium dark green. The purer the hue higher the value.
A combination of the hue (body color) and clarity determines the value of the emerald.
Care and Caution:
Emeralds generally require care hence it is advisable to set them in secure settings.
The recommended setting for ring and bangle or bangle bracelet is bezel setting. Other settings can be used if the emerald is worn either as a pendant or earring which are less vulnerable to everyday wear and tear.
Emerald can fracture easily. Since emerald has good to poor toughness and it is advised to remove your emerald jewelry whilst doing heavy work. Emerald should be protected from harsh chemicals and acids. Avoid cleaning emeralds in an ultrasonic cleaning machine as well as a steam cleaner.
For cleaning emeralds one should use mild soap and lint – free cloth. Do not soak or scrub hard.