What are Emeralds?


Emeralds are fascinating gemstones. In top quality, fine emeralds are even more valuable than diamonds.
Innumerable fantastic stories have grown up around this magnificent gem. The Incas and Aztecs of South America, where the best emeralds are still found today, regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone. However, probably the oldest known finds were once made near the Red Sea in Egypt. One of the world’s largest is the so-called ‘Mogul Emerald’. It dates from 1695, weighs 217.80 carats, and is some 10cm tall. One side of it is inscribed with prayer texts, and engraved on the other there are magnificent floral ornaments. This legendary emerald was auctioned by Christie’s of London to an unidentified buyer for $2.2 Million on September 28, 2001.
The lively luminosity of its color makes the emerald a unique gemstone. However, really good quality is fairly rare, with inclusions often marring the evenness of the color – signs of the turbulent genesis which has characterised this gemstone. Fine inclusions, however, do not by any means diminish the high regard in which it is held. On the contrary: even with inclusions, an emerald in a deep, lively green still has a much higher value than an almost flawless emerald whose color is paler.
While its hardness protects the emerald to a large extent from scratches, its brittleness and its many fissures can make cutting, setting and cleaning rather difficult. Even for a skilled gem cutter, cutting emeralds presents a special challenge, firstly because of the high value of the raw crystals, and secondly because of the frequent inclusions. However, this does not detract from the cutters’ love of this unique gem. Indeed, they have developed a special cut just for this gem: the emerald cut. The clear design of this rectangular or square cut with its bevelled corners brings out the beauty of this valuable gemstone to the full, at the same time protecting it from mechanical strain. Emeralds are also cut in many other, mainly classical shapes, however.
Unfortunately, because the emerald is not only one of the most beautiful gemstones, but also one of the most valuable, there are innumerable synthetics and imitations. So how can you protect yourself from fakes? The best way is to buy from a specialist in whom you have confidence.