Emerald is green variety of mineral beryl that is highly valued as a gemstone.
Rare and beautiful, emerald’s stunning green color has brought it an honored status amongst cultures worldwide.
It is one of only six types of precious gemstones found on planet earth, sharing prestigious company with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, opals, and pearls.
The color (hue) of Emeralds ranges from yellowish green to bluish green, with most Emeralds having a very slightly bluish green color. This color is very distinct and recognizable as “emerald green”.
Emeralds are found all over the world but Colombia is by far the world’s largest producer, constituting 50–95% of the world production, with the number depending on the year, source and grade. Zambia is the world’s second biggest producer and Brazil third.
Historically, the most famous antique emerald mines were found in Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians appear to have obtained emeralds from Upper Egypt, where it is said to have been worked as early as 2000 BC. Greek miners were working the mines in the time of Alexander the Great, and later the mines yielded their gems to Cleopatra.
The Aztecs and Incas of South America considered these gems holy.
The Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas assert that emeralds promise good luck and enhance well-being.
Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD), the Roman scholar, was the first to suggest emerald was a family member of beryl. It was not until the early 19th century that science proved him right.
During the Spanish conquest of South America, vast quantities of emeralds were taken from several rich deposits in Colombia.
Whether a centerpiece of Russian crown jewels, part of a collection of the Iranian State Treasure, or a favorite of Indian Shahs, emeralds have long been associated with royalty and status.
Today emerald, together with ruby and sapphire, form the “big three” of colored stones. The “big three” generate more economic activity than all other colored stones combined.
Emeralds, like all colored gemstones, are graded using four basic parameters–the four Cs of connoisseurship: color, clarity, cut and carat weight.
The Bahia Emerald is one of the largest emeralds and contains the largest single shard ever found. The stone, weighing approximately 341 kg (752 lb) (approximately 1,700,000 carats) originated from Bahia, Brazil and is emerald crystals embedded in host rock. It narrowly escaped flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 during a period of storage in a warehouse in New Orleans. It was subsequently reported stolen in September 2008 from a secured vault in South El Monte in Los Angeles County, California. The stone has been valued at some $400 million, but the true value is unclear. At one point, the emerald was listed for sale on eBay for a “Buy It Now” price of $75 million.
The largest emerald in matrix was unearthed in Madagascar and measures 1.25 m (4 ft 1 in) long, 78 cm (2 ft 6 in) wide, 55 cm (1 ft 8 in) high, and weighs 536 kg (1,181 lbs). It is currently displayed at BaoQu Tang Modern Art Gallery in Hong Kong.
Because of emerald’s high value, attempts were long made to manufacture it synthetically. These efforts finally met with success between 1934 and 1937, when a German patent was issued to cover its synthesis. Synthetic emeralds are currently manufactured in the United States by either a molten-flux process or a hydrothermal method; in the latter technique, aquamarine crystals are placed in a water solution at elevated temperature and pressure and used as a seed to produce emeralds. The crystals thus grown appear very similar to natural crystals and rival them in colour and beauty.
The word “emerald” is derived, from Vulgar Latin: esmaralda/esmaraldus, a variant of Latin smaragdus, which originated in Ancient Greek: σμάραγδος (smaragdos; “green gem”).
The green of the emerald has been taken as symbolic of spring and life itself.
Emerald encourages growth, reflection, peace and balance. It also represents healing and fertility.
It is the birthstone of someone whose birthday is in the month of May.
In some cultures, the emerald is the traditional gift for the 55th wedding anniversary. It is also used as a 20th and 35th wedding anniversary stone.