All About Emeralds
Emeralds are gem varieties found in the beryl mineral with a vibrant, distinctly green colour. They originate inside igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks around a small number of locations worldwide. As per the earliest references, emeralds were called "marakata," a Sanskrit term meaning "the green of growing things". Later, when these gems moved into high society, the official Latin word "smaragdus," was used. With time, the name evolved into the English word "emerald".
For over 5000 years, emeralds have been considered to be one of the most desirable and valuable coloured gemstones. Early civilizations in Africa, Asia, and South America individually discovered emeralds and made them a gem of highest honour. In the United States and many other countries, this stone is considered to be the birthstone for people born in May. Many also prefer these gorgeous green gems in their gemstone jewellery.
At present, emerald, along with ruby ??and sapphire, form the most valuable 'big three' of coloured gemstones. These three generate more economic commotion than all other coloured gems combined. In the year 2015, the value of emeralds imported into the US surpassed the value of all other coloured gemstones outside of the 'big three' combined.
Emerald stones are believed to be one of the oldest gemstones found on the planet. Some estimates state that they were already developing under the earth as early as 2600 million years ago. This beautiful gem's history can be traced back to the Egyptian era when Cleopatra had several emeralds mined for her jewellery. The home to these ancient emeralds is believed to be somewhere near the Red Sea, and the mines here are generally referred to as "Cleopatra's Mines" now.
The trace elements responsible for the colour in emerald is Chromium and Vanadium. In some places, these elements can be found in high quantity. The other ingredient that creates the gem is Beryllium. These elements are brought to the surface through tectonic separation, and the same process also causes many fractures in the gemstone as the tectonic plates move apart. This is the reason most emeralds are flawed, while a clean one is tough to find.
Presently, most emerald production sources are found in four countries: Colombia, Zambia, Brazil, and Zimbabwe. These places produce decent amounts of emeralds for commercial use. A little quantity or irregular production comes from places like Madagascar, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Canada, Russia, and also a few other countries.
In 2015, significant amounts of emerald with brilliant colour and clarity started to get exported from Ethiopia. According to some, it is believed that these emeralds found in Ethiopian might be the most magnificent gem to be found in 100 years.
The mineral named beryl of which emerald is a variety has a chemical composition of Be3Al2 (SiO3) 6, and in pure form, it is without colour. The vibrant green colour in emerald is due to trace amounts of chromium or vanadium. Its specific gravity is 2.72 and birefringence is between 0.005 - 0.009. The Mean Refractive Index is from 1.577 to 1.583, and the hardness is 7.5 to 8 on the Moh's hardness scale.
The pure form of beryl, known as "goshenite", is colourless. Trace amounts of elements like chromium or vanadium in the mineral cause it to cultivate a green colour. Trace amounts of iron will give emerald a bluish-green colour or a yellowish-green colour depending upon its oxidation state.
The beryl mineral is only called emerald if it is dark green or bluish-green. If it's yellow-green, then it is called heliodor, and if it's light green, then it is called green beryl. A yellow-green stone might also be olivine or green garnet.
Significance & Benefits
Emeralds symbolize a lot of things, and these meanings come from their rich roots in mythology and religion. However, most prominently, they signify companionship and loyalty. Emerald is considered to be a spring and Venus stone. It is believed to symbolize love, rebirth and fertility as well.
Faithfulness & Loyalty: According to Greek mythology, emeralds depicted love and wearing them brought fidelity to the couples. It was also believed that an emerald would glow brighter when worn by someone with a pure heart. If the shade faltered from its true green, the wearer was thought to be unfaithful. Just like faithfulness in love, emeralds were believed to depict the unconditional loyalty among friends. Some friends used to wear friendship bracelets studded with emeralds to symbolize their bond.
Good Luck & Eternal Youth: The famous Mughal emperor and creator of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, inscribed scriptures into emerald talismans for good luck. In the Vedas (the oldest Hindu scriptures), emeralds are described as the gems of good luck that are capable of improving one's wellbeing. According to Chinese culture, certain days of the week can bring good luck to those wearing emeralds. It is also believed that the mummies of ancient Egypt were preserved with an emerald beside their neck to give them eternal youth.
How to Identify Emeralds
Colour: Real emeralds have hues of dark green or bluish-green tones. Fake emeralds are mostly light green or may have some additional, non-green undertones such as yellow. If such secondary hues can be spotted in the gem, then that might just be another stone like olivine or green garnet, instead of emerald.
Sparkle: A gemstone's sparkle, when exposed to extreme light, can detect a lot. When in light, natural emerald doesn't display intense colourful flashes (also called fire). Although they can have some fire, it will be very minimal. Fake ones sparkle in all colours of the rainbow.
Facets: If the stone is faceted, ie, has too many sides or angles, take a closer look at those facets. Genuine emeralds are relatively hard, so the edges of its facets should not display any definite signs of wear. Since emerald imitations are mostly made of softer materials, like glass, the edges of such fake stones become less sharp over time and look worn out.
Clarity: Real emeralds are not so clear within their structure. When looked at such a stone from a very close distance, at least some flaws like lines, bubbles, crystals, etc., could be seen. High-clarity emeralds will have fewer imperfections, but then those stones will still not be perfect. In contrast, the artificially created ones usually look too perfect and clean. And if they are also relatively inexpensive, then this is a giveaway sign that the gemstone is not a real emerald.