Emeralds are more than simply the birthstone
for the month of May. They are ancient stones of beauty,
power, and wonder. They have long been one of the most sought
after and admired precious gems to be found on this great
earth. Fascination and demand for this precious stone has
a lot to do with its captivating and beautiful green color,
but it is spurred on even further by its scarcity. For these
same reasons, emeralds may sometimes be considered even
more precious than diamonds. You may find that statement
difficult to believe, but arguably, it is often true in
some of the finer emerald specimens. There are many things
about emeralds such as this that are often misunderstood
or even unknown to the casual emerald admirer. In this section
we hope to change that. Read on to find a great deal of
interesting facts and information about emeralds. We have
provided links in this section to allow you to jump to the
parts you may want to read about most. This section is organized
as seen below:
Diamonds will perhaps always be the king of gems, but every
king must have its queen. And emeralds are certainly that.
Along with rubies and Sapphires, emeralds belong to what
may be called the 'Big 3' of precious stones.
These colored gems will always be at the top of the list.
Their timeless and vibrant beauty has inspired awe and intrigue
from the very beginning. Let's take a closer look
at emeralds as a gem to help understand them further.
When someone speaks of diamonds, they often mention the
"4 C's" of Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat
when they assess the quality and value of the stone. All
of these characteristics are considered when one looks at
an emerald, but they looked at in a much different way.
For most colored stones, the most important trait, by far,
is color. This is one reason why Colombian emeralds are
more highly prized over all others. Their rich and superior
green to bluish green colors are unparalleled by emeralds
from any other source. This is the 'trademark'
color for which Colombian emeralds are known, but the color
range for Colombian stones is actually quite varied, even
within the same mine. You'll find Colombian emeralds
with colors that range from a pale yellow green to a dark
blue-green that's almost surreal. Or from a bright
grassy color to a milky green jade-like appearance. You
get the idea...They vary a great deal, but they are
easily recognized if placed amongst emeralds from other
countries. Valuation differences will also be just as obvious.
But as the old rule says...you get what you pay for.
Color is one of the most important considerations in buying
an emerald. The richer greens and blue-greens tend to be
the most expensive and highly regarded emerald colors, but
this should never sway you from buying a lighter colored
stone that you fancy. After all, beauty is very subjective.
It is not determined by some arbitrary quality standard
or grading system, but by how you feel about it. If you
think it's beautiful.. that's all that
matters. We receive just as many questions about our lighter
colored stones as we do for some of the more expensive specimens
with deeper color.
An interesting fact on the subject of color
that we have to mention is that the beautiful rich blue-green
color that you may see in some Colombian emeralds is almost
certainly indicative that it comes from the famed Muzo mine.
This mine is perhaps the most well known gem-producing mine
in the world. Its name is synonymous with the outstanding
quality emeralds it produces.
The quality of the cut plays an important role in assessing
a stone's value, but it is not an exact science. There
is no single cut that is valued more than another, but well
cut, matched pairs and sets will cost more because of the
difficulty in finding and cutting multiple stones to match
not only in color, but size and overall appearance.
Different gemstones may sometimes have
certain cuts associated with that gem. For example, you
will often see diamonds in a round brilliant cut or a princess
cut. Emeralds are no different in that regard, with the
emerald cut being by far the most common. There are reasons
for this, as you will read about in the next paragraph.
But overall, the most common cuts in which you will find
emeralds are: emerald cut, round and oval cuts, pear or
teardrop cut, and cabochon. To a lesser extent you will
find princess cuts, brilliants, trilliants, and various
fancy cut variants to include hearts and carvings. Some
of these cuts are rather self-explanatory, so we'll
only comment further on those that are not as obvious.
The emerald cut may be square or rectangular
in shape and is easily recognizable by its shape, large
face, and chopped corners. It is used so often for emeralds
that it took its name from them. A big reason why emerald
cuts are so common for emeralds is that it yields more saleable
product from the rough crystal. This is an important consideration
because a significant portion of the rough crystal is already
lost in the cutting process... Approximately thirty percent.
When this cut is used on any other gemstone, it is still
referred to as an 'emerald cut'.
Cabochon is an ancient cut that has a convex,
rounded surface that is polished. Finer stones are not often
cut in the cabochon style, but do turn out to be quite elegant
when they are. Cabochons are not as brilliant as other cuts,
but instead project a quiet, tasteful beauty that features
the stones natural color. Other gemstones use the
cabochon cut more frequently with great results. Notable
examples are: cat's eyes (chrysoberyl), star rubies
and sapphires, many opaque stones such as opal, turquoise,
Fancy cut is a term that may be used to
describe custom carving-type cuts or non-typical cuts which
would often be used for custom settings. Gem cutters, will
inevitably cut unusually shaped stones to make the most
of the gem crystal they have to work with. But for a dealer,
carrying a large inventory of unusually cut stones is probably
unwise. If a client plans to make a custom piece of jewelry,
it may be unlikely that the design could incorporate the
fancy cuts you'd have on hand. Because there will
inevitably be these fancy cut stones produced and with perhaps
a much less predictable demand, the prices of these stones
will often be lower than if they were cut in the typical
shapes. Herein lies opportunity. A savvy buyer, who may
be looking create a custom-made piece, could find some real
bargains. They would just have to be willing to work with
Clarity is one of the essentials in selecting diamonds,
but in colored stones, this characteristic can be considerably
less important...but not always. This is especially
true when it comes to emeralds because of what is often
referred to as the 'garden'. A garden is a natural
feature internal to the stone that may appear like a silky
web trapped within. Gardens are as varied as snowflakes
and fingerprints and should be thought of in much the same
way. Dense gardens may have an affect on clarity, but clarity
alone should not sway one's opinion of a particular
stone. The degree to which clarity affects a stone,s
appeal and value is a very subjective consideration. Many
emerald buyers will often place greater emphasis on color.
One carat is a unit of weight measurement equivalent to
1/5th of one gram. Most gemstones are priced and sold based
on their carat weight. For average sized stones, this price
is based primarily on their color, cut, and clarity which
we've already discussed. But as you begin to look
at larger stones, and particularly larger stones of high
quality, the 4th 'C' begins to play a much bigger
role in pricing the stone. This is because the larger stones
are rarer, and thus command a higher price per carat than
smaller stones of the same quality. During a visit with
one of our sources, we were shown a 180 carat stone of rather
poor color and clarity with large, obvious inclusions. A
one carat stone cut from this material would be priced at
less than $200. But a stone of this size is rare and commands
a much higher price. In the case of this stone, our source
had a buyer for it at $1,000/carat.