What Is An Emerald?
Emeralds are gem-quality specimens of the beryl mineral family with a rich, distinctly green color. They are found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks in a small number of locations worldwide.
Igneous – formed from the solidification of molten rock material
Metamorphic – modified by heat, pressure, and chemical processes, usually while buried deep below Earth’s surface
Sedimentary – formed by the accumulation of sediments
For over 5000 years, Emeralds have been one of the most desirable and valuable colored stones. Ancient civilizations in Africa, Asia, and South America independently discovered Emeralds and made them a gemstone of highest esteem. It is so prized, that carat for carat, a fine Emerald may be two to three times as valuable as a Diamond.
Today, Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire form the “big three” of colored stones. The “big three” generate more economic activity than all other colored stones combined.
What Makes An Emerald Green?
The name Emerald comes from the Greek word which literally means green stone. So, to be an Emerald, a specimen must have a distinctly green color that falls in the range from bluish green to green to slightly yellowish green. Perhaps the most important, however, the specimen must also have a rich color.
Beryl, the mineral of which Emerald is a variety, is colorless and known as “goshenite.” Trace amounts of chromium or vanadium in the mineral, is the key to developing it’s rich, green color.
Trace amounts of iron, however, will tint the Emerald a bluish green or a yellowish green color depending upon its oxidation state. Stones with weak saturation or light tone should be called “Green Beryl.” If the beryl’s color is greenish blue then it is an “Aquamarine.” If it is greenish yellow it is “Heliodor.”
We recommend using caution when you are buying an “Emerald” from a non-trusted seller. Make sure that you are getting a gem that has a rich green color instead of a “Green Beryl”. Buying from a website where people from outside of the United States are acting as third-party sellers can be especially risky, as the photographs might not have representative color.
Physical & Spiritual Healing Properties
Since as far back as there is evidence of Emeralds, there has been evidence of its healing powers. The earliest reference to Emeralds in Western literature come from Aristotle. He was a great fan of the gemstone and wrote that owning an Emerald increases the owner’s importance in presence and speech during business, gives victory in trials, helps settle litigation, and comforts and soothes eyesight.
He also stated “An Emerald hung from the neck or worn in a ring will prevent the falling sickness (epilepsy). We, therefore, commend noblemen that it be hanged about the necks of their children that they fall not into this complaint.”
It is believed that Emeralds contain the energy that is necessary to bring creative form to your work. And it was once believed that a high quality Emerald would change hues to alert the wearer to impending danger. They also help one express love, devotion, and adoration. Some said Emeralds would heal if simply worn, others said gaining help required gazing deeply into the green for a while.
In every language, there were reports of the Emerald helping eyesight. The Sumerians said that if an Emerald was worn in a ring on the little finger of the left hand, it would cure inflammation of the eyes. During the time of Hippocrates, Emeralds were crushed into a fine powder and made into an eye lotion. The Emerald was also once prized as an antidote in cases of poisoning.
Caring For Your Emerald
Emerald is 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs hardness scale (out of 10, being Diamond) and has ‘fair to good’ toughness. It is a stone that requires more caution in wearing than Ruby or Sapphire but with proper care, will last for generations.
Some estimates state that 90 percent or more of Emeralds are fracture-filled. Heat can damage Emeralds, especially by extending existing fractures. Light and chemicals can cause the oils, resins, and polymers used to fill surface-reaching fractures to alter in appearance or deteriorate.
Since the great majority of fashioned natural Emeralds contain filled fractures, it’s risky to clean them ultrasonically or with steam. Ultrasonic vibrations can weaken already-fractured stones, and hot steam can cause oil or unhardened resin to sweat out of fractures. Using warm, soapy water coupled with gentle scrubbing with a soft, well-used toothbrush is the safest way to clean Emeralds.