Everyone loves an emerald! It's rich green color is reminder of spring, nature and even the birthstone for the month of May. This stone offers a pretty pear cut that would look outstanding as a cocktail ring. Exciting and enjoyable...that's emerald!
From Cleopatra to conquistadors, the lust for its rare, beautiful greens has made the emerald one of the world's most sought-after gemstones. Four criteria determine value in emerald: color, transparency, clarity and brilliance (brightness). An acclaimed beryl variety from a famed Brazilian locale, Fernão Dias Emerald displays a classic emerald green with hints of blue for depth, richness and warmth and a medium tone and saturation; signature 'green fire' brilliance; good transparency; and optimal lapidary that affords maximum brilliance and beauty. While color is king for emerald, visible inclusions, termed 'jardin' (French for 'garden'), are also a characteristic trait and totally acceptable. Quality of cut is very important as a skilled lapidary can locate its inherent inclusions in a way that minimizes their impact on beauty.
Emerald's name is derived from the Greek 'smaragdos', which means 'green gem'. The birthstone for May, emerald is a member of the beryl mineral family (from the ancient Greek 'beryllos', meaning blue-green stone), commonly known as the 'mother of gemstones' because of its highly regarded gem varieties. Pure beryl is colorless and trace amounts of elements are responsible for producing beryl's wonderful colors. Apart from emerald's greens, other beryl gemstones include aquamarine blues and morganite pinks. Emerald is colored by trace amounts of chromium, vanadium and iron.
While the royal house of Portugal received many examples from the 16th century onwards, most of this 'Brazilian Emerald' was later correctly identified as green tourmaline. Modern discoveries are attributed to Bahia in 1963 and Nova Era in 1978. Nova Era in the state of Minas Gerais is Brazil's main emerald source. Hailing from the Fernão Dias Mine in Nova Era, the mine is owned by the Rosa family and is 40 years old. The mine is named for Fernão Dias (1608-1681) a frontiersman known as the 'Emerald Hunter' who is said to have discovered this mining area. Fernão Dias Emeralds are mined in grueling conditions deep within the earth at depths of 1,000 feet or more.
Fernão Dias Emerald has a Mohs' Hardness rating of 7.5 - 8.0 and is an excellent choice for everyday jewelry. Always store Fernão Dias Emerald carefully to avoid scuffs and scratches. Clean with gentle soap and lukewarm water, scrubbing behind the gem with a very soft toothbrush as necessary. After cleaning, pat dry with a soft towel or chamois cloth.
As gem mines are becoming more and more depleted, gemstones of all types are becoming increasingly sought-after. Whether you are a collector or a first-time buyer, you will be amazed by the timeless glamor loose gems have to offer! They are fun to collect and look spectacular no matter how you display them. You can make an appointment with your jeweler to experience the joy of creating your very own, one-of-a-kind design. Choose from a variety of settings and styles to create a completely unique presentation that's sprung from your own imagination. Or display your loose gems under glass, showcasing rare and vibrant stones in an artistic and sophisticated manner. No matter how they're displayed, loose gemstones are brilliant collectibles for gem lovers and avid collectors alike!
All weights pertaining to gemstones, including diamonds, are minimum weights. Additionally, please note that many gemstones are treated to enhance their beauty. View Gemstone Enhancements and Special Care Requirements for important information.
Cut: Refers to the geometric shape and proportions of a gemstone. A gemstone’s cut is what most directly affects its sparkle or brilliance.
Facet: A flat cut on the surface of a gemstone.
Fire: Flashes of rainbow colors. Also called “dispersion.”
Hardness: Resistance to scratching. The higher the number, the more resistant.
Hue: Another word for color.
Luster: The shininess of a jewel.
Opaque: The opposite of transparent. Light cannot pass through an opaque gemstone, therefore they do not have any sparkle or fire.
Saturation: This term refers to how pure or deep a gemstone’s color is. Some gemstones, like aquamarine, have a naturally low saturation (very light blue) while other gemstones, like amethysts, can have very high saturation (rich, dark purple).
Sparkle: The white light leaving a jewel, traveling upward, which is visible to the eye. Sparkle is often referred to as “brilliance.”
Toughness: Resistance to breakage.
Gemstone Shapes & Cuts
These are the common shapes or cuts for gemstones, each lending a different look and allure.
Baguette: Baguette means “stick” or “rod” in French, which makes it a very appropriate name for this gemstone shape. Diamond baguettes are often used as accent stones to flank a primary stone.
Brilliant: Any gemstone cut with 58 facets, which produces the maximum possible sparkle. A brilliant cut can have several shapes, including round, oval, pear, radiant and heart.
Cabochon: This shape features a rounded, perfectly smooth surface instead of facets. It is the oldest gemstone shape and is commonly used with opaque stones such as opal, jade and turquoise.
Cushion: A very popular style for most of the 19th century, cushion shapes are slightly domed with rounded corners that make the stone look like a pillow. In fact, this shape is often referred to as a “pillow cut.” It looks particularly beautiful in candlelight.
Emerald: With its long, steep facets, emerald cuts tend to flash rather than sparkle.
Fancy: Technically, this term refers to any type of gemstone that isn’t round, but many jewelers reserve it to describe the more exotic gemstone shapes such as marquise, heart, pear and trillion.
Heart: Often described as a custom cut, heart-shaped gemstones are very popular for pendants.
Marquise: According to legend, this shape was commissioned by King Louis XV to resemble the smile of his mistress, Marquise de Pompadour. Ideal marquise cuts have a length to width ratio of 2:1.
Oval: Similar to the round shape, oval gemstones produce a high amount of sparkle and fire.
Pear: This is a classic teardrop shape that is ideal for earrings and pendants.
Princess: This a relatively new shape that combines the sharp, flat edges of an emerald shape with numerous small facets, which produce both sparkle and fire.
Radiant: This shape is similar to emerald, but it adds extra facets on the edges and corners to increase the gemstone’s sparkle.
Round: This classic shape produces maximum sparkle and fire, making it an ideal shape for diamonds.
Tapered Baguette: A tapered baguette is a baguette shape with one end that is narrower than the other.
Trillion: A very striking, usually three-sided shape, trillion gemstones (especially diamonds) are celebrated for the intense fire they produce.
The Mohs Scale
The most common measure of a gemstone's degree of hardness is based on the Mohs Scale. Devised by German geologist Friedrich Mohs in 1812, the Mohs Scale grades minerals on a comparative scale from 1 (very soft) to 10 (very hard).
Hardness is generally associated with durability and the ability to resist breakage. When referring to gemstones, however, hardness more accurately means the stone's ability to resist abrasion. What the scale means is that a mineral of a given hardness rating will scratch other minerals of the same rating, as well as any minerals of a lower hardness rating. For example, rubies and sapphires, which are composed of the mineral corundum and have a Mohs rating of 9, will scratch each other, as well as topaz (rating 8) and quartz (rating 7). But they will not scratch diamonds, which are rated 10 and considered the hardest substance.
The numeric values assigned to each interval of hardness are not equal. Some stones are disproportionately harder than others. Because Mohs Scale wasn't made for exact precision, it uses half numbers for in-between hardness ratings.
The symbol of spring and rebirth, the emerald has a color of green that communicates harmony, love of nature and a primeval joy of life. The word emerald was derived from the French “esmeraude,” which comes from the Greek root "smaragdos,” meaning simply “green gemstone.” For centuries, emerald green has been the color of beauty and eternal love. Even in ancient Rome, green was the color dedicated to Venus, goddess of love and beauty. Many cultures and religions today hold a special position for the color. For instance, green is the holy color of Islam; all states of the Arabian league sport green banners symbolizing the unity of their religion; and green is among the liturgy colors in the Catholic church. The emerald gem is May’s birthstone, and it is the traditional gift for couples celebrating their 20 th and 35 th anniversaries.
Emeralds come in a variety of light and dark shades of green, often with subtle background hues of other colors such as yellow, blue, brown or gray. Most often, the purer and richer the green color, the more valuable the stone. Flawless emeralds are exceptionally rare, and therefore command great prices (even higher than diamonds, in some instances). Most naturally grown emeralds, however, have numerous inclusions that weaken their structure and cloud their color. F laws and cloudiness, called “jardin,” are very common in emeralds, so many are treated in some way to remove surface flaws and enhance color. The most common technique is to oil the stone with a green-tinted oil that strengthens the stone and fills in surface cracks.
Emerald gemstones have been prized for thousands of years for their lush green hues and rare beauty. Venus, the goddess of love, is said to have loved the stone, and ancient Romans associated the emerald with her because it symbolized reproduction. Nero is said to have watched the Roman games in the coliseum through a set of highly prized emerald glasses. It's also said that Isis, the mother goddess, wore a green emerald on her headband. Supposedly, all who looked upon it would be able to conceive and were guaranteed a safe trip through the land of the dead. The gem is also considered the magical stone of forest spirits (elves).
In ancient Egypt, emeralds were mined close to the Red Sea. This tranquil green gem was highly prized by priests and the wealthy, and it is said that Cleopatra loved it more than any other gem. In fact, gemstone mines called “Cleopatra’s Mines” were exploited by Egyptian pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C., and were found empty when they were rediscovered centuries later. Even the ancient Incas and Aztecs in South America, where the best emeralds are still found today, worshipped the emerald as a holy stone. With the conquest of South America by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, emeralds became more plentiful in Europe. Pizarro and Cortez took over the existing emerald and gold mines of the Inca and Mayan civilizations. They shipped these fortunes back to Spain, who in turn shipped them to trading ports throughout the world, turning Spain into one of the leading world powers of the time.
Phrases about emeralds appear in the Veda, ancient sacred writings of Hinduism, including “Emeralds promise good luck” and “The emerald enhances your well-being.” Treasure chests of Indian Maharajas and Maharanis contained wonderful emeralds. One of the largest emeralds in the world is the "Mogul Emerald.” Dating back to the year 1695, it weighs 217.80 carats. One side is inscribed with prayers, while the other side is engraved with opulent flower ornaments. This legendary stone was auctioned off at Christie’s of London for 2.2 million U.S. dollars to an anonymous buyer. Other famous emeralds include a cup made from pure emerald that was owned by Emperor Jehingar. It is currently located in the New York Museum of Natural History, as is a Colombian emerald crystal weighing 632.00 carats. The entire collection is owned by the Bank of Bogota and contains five valuable emerald crystals weighing between 220.00 and 1,796.00 carats.
Throughout the ancient world, emerald symbolized eternal hope, rebirth and the arrival of spring. The ancients ascribed numerous magical and mystical properties to this most precious of green gems. It was believed to give a person psychic powers, in that the gem could tell if a lover’s affections were true. Some cultures believed the gem rewarded its owners with love, intelligence, eloquence and a soothed soul. Middle Age seers used emeralds to foretell the future, as well as to ward off evil spirits and cure ailments ranging from bad eyesight to infertility. During the Renaissance, emeralds were used as a test for friendship among the aristocracy. It was believed that an emerald given to a friend would remain perfect as long as the friendship endured. The stone was also said to improve memory and bring great wealth to its wearer.
Emeralds have long been thought to have healing powers, especially for eyesight. It is said that in business, emeralds can be used to promote sales and cash flow. It is also used to attract love by quickening the heart. The emerald is believed to put one in touch with the mind and have positive effects on psychic powers. It is said to increase those powers when used in meditation. Wearing an emerald bracelet on the left wrist is said to protect you when traveling in forests.
Brazil is by far the world's largest producer of emerald, with a wide range of quality. The finest emeralds have traditionally come from Colombia, but Russia's Ural Mountains also have produced top-quality gems. Other sources for the stone include Afghanistan, Australia, Egypt, India, Pakistan, South Africa, United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Emeralds belong to the beryl group of stones. They have large, perfect, six-sided crystals with a hardness of 7.0-8.0 on the Mohs Scale.