A Green Beauty

Contributed by Charissa Hooyman, Jewelry Designer

In articles past I have written about rubies, sapphires, and diamonds, now I will be adding the last piece of the puzzle; more on that later. Emeralds have been around since the time of Cleopatra and have been associated with much lore. So what makes this green beauty so valuable?

Emeralds were first mined in Egypt since around 330 BC to 1700. Cleopatra was said to have used it in her royal adornments. In Columbia, the Incas had been using emeralds in their religious ceremonies since before the arrival of the Spanish. 

Emeralds have been associated with much lore such as, healing, protection from evil spirits, and the revelation of truth or falseness of a person’s love oath. It has even been said that the emerald was one of the stones given to Solomon by God and the four stones together is what “endowed him with the power over all creation.” (GIA)

What are the characteristics that make emeralds sought after? Most important is the color, then clarity, cut, and carat weight. People in the gemstone trade value the green color as most important and have used emerald’s green color to set the standard against other green gemstones. Some of the most valuable emeralds are bluish green to green. Columbia has some of the most beautiful green emeralds, having a warmer and pure green color. 

Inclusions are generally accepted by trade members and consumers because emeralds typically have them, especially those that are not seen by the unaided eye. Sometimes inclusions are visible to the naked eye and can, at times, negatively affect the price. Emeralds without inclusions are rare and are the most valuable. How the emerald is cut can affect its value as well. 

A cutter has to be able to bring out the best color and paying close attention to the fissures (fractures within the gemstone), which could result in wasting of the carat weigh. Carat weight usually rages from .02 to .50 carat weight for accent pieces to 1 to 5 carat weight as center pieces. Different emerald mines can produce different carat weights as well.

Some of the most popular emeralds are the 75.47 carat Hooker Emerald worn by Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II and the ‘Patricia’ from one of the Columbian mines weighing 632 carats. I cannot forget to mention a cup made from a pure emerald once owned by Emperor Jehangir.

Wow! What a unique place in history emeralds have! Another unique place emeralds have in jewelry during the …

Read in next month’s issue to find out how rubies, sapphires, and diamonds all came together with the emerald to create a unique pieces of jewelry.