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Comprehensive Gemstone Information

 

Emerald - Birthstone of May
Part 2

Location

When talking of pricing real estate, there is a popular saying that the top 3 factors that influence price of real estate is location, location, and location. This may also be true in case of emeralds. When we think of quality emeralds, we think of Columbia and Muzo mines. In fact some people just call a vivid, slightly bluish green stones of medium to medium dark color as Columbian Emerald although it may not have come from Columbia! Colombia is by tradition and lore, the finest modern source for Emeralds.

Colombia and Brazil are the two major producers of emerald. While Colombian Emeralds are known for their vivid green color, Brazilian Emeralds are known for their variety of colors. They can range from light green to fine to medium dark blue green.

Historically the emeralds given to Cleopatra came from Africa. But these mines have long been closed. At present, there are emerald mines in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Nigeria. Each of these location typically produces a certain color, size and clarity. For example, Zambian Emeralds are of high quality but not as neon green as Colombian Emeralds. They occasionally show a very slight brown or yellowness in color. Although Zambia has the world's second largest Emerald deposit, this is substantially underdeveloped and restricted to approximately 40 mines in Northern Zambia.

The USA and Japan together purchase more than 75% of the world's cut emeralds.

Origin of Color

Emerald, by definition, is a medium or darker green to bluish green beryl, in which the green color is derived from impurities of chromium or vanadium or a combination of both.

Presence of iron will affect the color of emerald. It gives the emerald a bluish tone.

GIA classifies emerald as a "Type III" gemstone. This is because emeralds are virtually always included to one degree or another. This means that the clarity grades for emerald is different than what we use for other colored stones. For example, a clarity grade of "very slightly included", refers to the normal range for emeralds.

Well over 90% of the emeralds in commerce have been treated to minimize the appearance of the inclusions. The industry practice for treatment is called "oiling". This refers to the practice of immersing emeralds in a colorless oil or resin of natural or man-made origin. Often this is done using a vacuum chamber to assist in penetration.

Non-standard treatments go beyond this to using green colored oils and hardened (epoxy-like) resins. These treatments dramatically improve the appearance of the gems, but necessitate special care in cleaning and setting. Steam cleaners, solvents and ultrasonic cleaners can remove the oil, making inclusions, which had barely been visible before cleaning, stand out in sharp relief. It is possible to have emeralds re-oiled.

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Next: Jewelry Design Considerations

[ Emerald part 1 ] [ Emerald part 3 ] [ Emerald part 4 ]

See Also:

Products with Emerald

Therapeutic Power of Emerald

Gemstone Infocenter Home

Gift Selections incorporating Gemstones

Guide to Caring for Gemstones

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