Emerald, the Lovely Green Jewel
Even though once believed to be a family of gemstone unto itself, the emerald is actually a mineral in the family known as beryl. This was determined between 23 and 79 AD by a Roman naturalist called Pliny the Elder. In the 19th century, Pliny was proved right once and for all. Emeralds contain chromium oxide , which gives them their beautiful green color. Emeralds can also contain traces of iron and/or vanadium, which may cause yellow or bluish tints. This gem stone almost always has inclusions, or imperfections within it, and emeralds can be a bit brittle.
If you are buying, or planning on buying emeralds, there are certain things you will want to look for. And just like when buying diamonds, or other stones, always remember the "4 C's". Cut, color, carat, and clarity.
Don't be confused in thinking the larger the stone the better, or more valuable it is. This is simply not always true. Many small high quality emeralds are worth far more than much larger lessor quality stones. Some small emeralds may have a much more clear and vibrant color, than the more "watered down" lighter greens of the less expensive, and maybe larger stones.
It's always a good idea to check the appearance of the emerald in a different lighting situation than the artificial lighting of the store before making a decision on buying. The lighting in the store may actually change the way the emerald looks. So look at it in daylight to get a true perspective on the stone. But remember, emeralds are one of the very few gemstones with enough luster to sparkle even in candlelight.
Since is is extremely rare to find a "crystal clear" emerald, be aware that to do so will be very expensive, or it will be synthetic. I personally enjoy the inclusions in the emerald. I think it adds to their their charm, and uniqueness. Since the inclusions are a result of the gem being formed, the inclusions are part of the "personality" and history of the emerald.
When considering the cut you prefer in an emerald, realize a gem without the right cut may not reflect light properly, and this can cause the stone to look dark, and unrewarding. The traditional "emerald cut" is usually a very nice cut for the emerald, but other cuts are pretty also. A round cut for smaller emeralds is always a good bet, and ovals are nice too. I would personally avoid pear and marquis cut emeralds, because of the fact that they can be brittle, and the points of these cuts may break off, (unless placed in a bezel setting). Just keep in mind that emeralds come in all shapes and sizes. From tiny enough to be set in a baby's ring, to the one weighing 2,680 carats displayed in the History of Art Museum in Vienna!
Emerald is the birthstone of May, and to me it just fits. The lovely greens of the emerald are a nice reminder of Spring. But emeralds shouldn't be worn only by those born in May. They are just too pretty to ignore, no matter what your birthday is!
In ancient history, emeralds were mined only in the Cleopatra Mine on the Red Sea. (And legend has it that Cleopatra truely loved her emeralds!) But now they are mined in many places around the world. Austria, Brazil, India, Africa, and Columbia are some of the places emeralds are found today.
If you plan on collecting loose emeralds, or buying emerald jewelry for yourself or as a gift, I advise you to shop around and be prepared to fall in love with this beautiful, and vibrant gem. There are other green gemstones out there, which are pretty and pleasing to the eye. But there's just something very special about emeralds!