Buying an Emerald: What You Should Know Before Making Your Purchase
Emeralds are a gemstone composed of the mineral Beryl and trace amounts of chromium or vanadium. These trace elements give emeralds their distinctive green color. Although the mineral Beryl is relatively hard, 7.5-8 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, the presence of trace materials weakens the mineral, making emeralds one of the more fragile gemstones.
The first emeralds were mined in Egypt, who was the largest producer of emeralds until the 16th century. During the 1600s, the Spanish discovered emerald mines in South America, despite the Incas best efforts to hide them, and began shipping emeralds back to Europe. Emeralds are still considered one of the most valuable gemstones in the world today and have been known to sell for a higher price than flawless diamonds.
So How Do You Determine How Valuable An Emerald Is?
An emerald’s value is tied to its color and the gemstone’s clarity. The most valuable emeralds have a color that ranges from bluish green to bright green with a strong saturation and a medium tone. Emeralds are a type of Beryl, but they are not the only type of green colored Beryl. Gemologists can tell the difference between emeralds and Green Beryl, the former of which is more valuable.
Different Types of Emeralds
Columbianis Emeralds are emeralds with a bluish green to green color and strong saturation; these emeralds are among the most rare and valuable. Zambian Emeralds are a darker and more bluish than Columbianis Emeralds, although they usually have a greater clarity. Sandawana Emeralds are small, bright, intense green emerald that originate in Sandawana, Zimbabwe. Brazilian Emeralds are lighter in color and have a low saturation; these are a very common type of emerald often found in jewelry stores.
It is important to keep in mind that these terms are generalizations and that it is possible to find high quality emeralds in Brazil or Zimbabwe, though they are less common than the high quality emeralds found in Colombia.
Clarity in emeralds is often a difficult thing to find. More so than other gemstones, emeralds have a greater propensity for inclusion, which is when another mineral is trapped within the gemstone. Thus, flawless emeralds are extremely rare and very pricey.
When buying emeralds, you should not immediately rule out stones with inclusion, the trick is to make sure the inclusion does not distract from the gemstones overall beauty. Gemologists characterize grade inclusions on a scale from Sightly/Lightly to Heavily. Light Included emeralds have inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye. Moderately Included emeralds have obvious inclusions that are very apparent to the unaided eye. Heavily Included emeralds have very obvious inclusions that negatively impact the stone’s appearance.
For emeralds that contain fractures, fracture filling is a common treatment used to rectify this. Fracture filling uses various oils to fill the fractures on the gemstone’s surface.
Another method uses resins, which is a more permanent treatment as resins will not evaporate or change color over time.
The information above will allow you to navigate the emerald market with knowledge and confidence, and with this information in mind you will be able to go purchase an excellent emerald, making you the owner of one of the most rare and valuable gemstones available on the market today.
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