In ancient times, emeralds were thought to enable the wearer to see into the future. They were prized by magicians for their ability to defeat spells and enchantments. They were revealers of truth. Those who wished to be eloquent speakers would seek to possess a fine specimen. (source: The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, by George Frederick Kunz. ©1913 and © renewed 1941.)
Emerald is also the birthstone for May (Hey!, that’s MY birthstone! It’s the stone of Spring, and is the traditional gift for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA,) the first known emerald mines were in Egypt, dating from at least 330 B.C. into the 1700s. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald, and used it in her royal adornments.
We still adorn ourselves with emeralds, and why not? They are GORGEOUS!
For my fellow earth science geeks: Emeralds are formed when chromium, vanadium, and iron are present in the mineral beryl. (FYI – Aquamarine is also in the beryl family – – who knew they were related?) The varying presence of these three elements gives emerald its range of color. Chromium and vanadium make an intense green color. Iron gives the stone a bluish tint.
The most valuable emeralds are bluish-green to green and have a medium to medium-dark tone.
Most emeralds have inclusions (internal clarity characteristics) and blemishes (surface clarity characteristics) that can be seen with the unaided eye. The appearance of many of these can be minimized by oiling the stone, an enhancement technique commonly used with emeralds. Because of this, you should never put an emerald into an ultrasonic cleaner or steam clean it as this may remove the oil and ruin the look of the stone, or even cause it to break.
The availability of natural, fine quality emerald is limited to rare.
Synthetic emerald is man-made, has the same chemical composition and structure as natural emerald, and is plentiful in the marketplace. So if you are looking to buy an emerald be sure to ask specifically if it is natural or synthetic. Note that it might be called “cultured emerald,” and that is the same thing as synthetic. Also note that emeralds labeled “genuine” could be either natural or synthetic so you have to ask.
If your heart is set on having natural emeralds grown by the Earth, look for designer and artisan made jewelry composed of “non-gem grade” emeralds, such as my one-of-a-kind Emerald Necklace. You will find these stones to be beautiful individuals with tons of character! You will never feel like just one of the crowd when you wear jewelry made with these unconventional emeralds!
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