When you picture rare expensive gemstones, your mind usually jumps to diamonds. But did you know that emeralds are among the rarest of all gemstones
A GLAMOROUS CHOICE
The ‘jewel of kings’, which also serves as May’s birthstone, has intrigued the rich and famous for millennia. The ancients considered emeralds sacred symbols of fertility and immortality and Cleopatra reportedly adorned both herself and her palace with the stones, while regularly gifting them to foreign dignitaries. More recently, Jackie O’s famous engagement ring featured a tapered baguette 2.84-carat emerald, while Richard Burton gifted Elizabeth Taylor a 23.46-carat emerald brooch, which was later auctioned by Christie’s for a staggering $6.6 million.
A WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON
Emeralds are the most precious stones in the family of gems called beryl. The vibrant green stones are mined all over the world, but even in established mines, the availability of high- quality or large gems is limited. The majority of emeralds are found in Columbia, where more than 50% of the world’s emerald supply is mined. However, emeralds can be found in about 30 countries including the United States, China, and Switzerland. These days, Colombia, Brazil and Zambia are among the leading producers of fine emeralds.
Colour is the most important factor when choosing an emerald. Emeralds range from deep green to pale green, and this wide colour range is caused by the exact amount of trace elements chromium, vanadium and iron in the stone. Rich, evenly distributed hues fetch the highest price tags.
Clarity is less important in emeralds than in other stones, as inclusions don’t detract much from the colour and aesthetic of the stone. In fact, they can even be viewed as desirable features. This is because they form lovely patterns, referred to in the trade as the emerald’s jardin, or garden. That said, if an emerald has no inclusions visible to the naked eye, it is considered flawless and will fetch a high price. In fact, emeralds without inclusions are so rare that they can command much higher prices than diamonds.
Cut goes a long way to emphasise the colour of the stone and to minimise its inclusions. A special cut was designed just for these precious gems. The emerald cut is an elegant square shape with stepped facets. As they are often quite heavily included, emeralds are not the strongest of stones, and this style protects them from mechanical strain and internal stress. Emeralds can also be shaped into a variety of other traditional cuts such as pear, oval and round.
Carat. With emeralds, you will see a vast difference in price tags when you start to look at large stones. That said, as it is not a very dense stone, a 1-carat emerald will be larger than a 1-carat diamond, so it’s a good option if you’re looking to maximise your stone size. Emeralds are a versatile stone that can enhance a number of settings. From necklaces to simple pendants, engagement rings, wedding rings, bracelets and earrings, May’s visually striking birthstone offers endless possibilities for your custom jewellery.