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Colombian Emeralds

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Around 500 years ago, the spanish conquistadors set foot on the until then unknown contenent of South America. There, they came upon indian tribes that had been using magnificent emeralds in jewelry, ornaments and other ceremonial objects for ages. These stones where far larger, of a deeper color, and with better transparency that those from the only other known producer at the time, Egypt.

Beginning in the 1600's, these emeralds began to find their way into the European market, and from there into the middle and far east.

Colombia today is the world's most significant exporter of gemological quality emeralds and is generally described as setting the standards with regard to quality and desirability. Numerous finds date back to pre-colonial times, and exist along eastern Cordillera mountain range that divides the country from north to south.

Along the western side of the cordillera exists the Vasquez-Yacopí mining district where there exists a variety of significant finds, including Coscuez, La Pita, Yacopí, Muzo, Tequendama, Palo Blanco, Puerto Arturo, Peñas Blancas, and Maripi. The spectacular Muzo Emerald originated from here, weighing in at over 1,700 carats.

On the eastern side of the range are other significant sites encompassing the Guavió-Guatéque mining district, such as Chivor, Gachalá, Vega San Jau, Las Cruces, El Diamante, El Toro, Mantecanã, and Macanal.

Of these mines, the most significant are Muzo and Coscuez, both on long term leases from the Government of Colombia, and Chivor, which is privately owned.

The color of emeralds from Colombia are of the most varied of any in the world, ranging from from pale greens to deep green-blue specimens.

Besides being prized for their color, Colombian emeralds also possess several other characteristics that set the apart from emeralds found elsewhere in the world. Emeralds found here are the only variety created by a hydrothermal process, whereby hot water leeches minerals from the surrounding rocks and remains dissolved in the liquids until a event (such as a drop in temperature or extreme pressure) triggers the precipitation, eventually forming the emerald crystal. Because of this process, emeralds from Colombia tend to contain more inclusions than emeralds from elsewhere in the world.

Found much less frequently than elsewhere, these emeralds contain three-phase inclusions; minuscule pockets of liquid that further contain salt crystals and gas bubbles. These inclusions assist in creating the intriguing garden that Colombian emeralds are known for.


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