Emerald

Emerald is an incredibly famous gemstone, found in almost every fine jewellery shop on earth.

It is a beautiful form of green Beryl, usually coloured by small amounts of Chromium.

The value of an Emerald, as with most other gemstones, is decided by a range of factors – the clarity of the stone, the colour of the stone, the cut, and the weight.

The pieces we sell here are at the lower end of the quality scale – mineral specimens and some smaller faceted stones/cabochons.

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Appearance, Uses and History

A green, gemstone, a variety of the mineral Beryl.

Most Emeralds have numerous inclusions, fractures, and cracks under the surface. The crystals often form in a hexagonal crystalline form.

Emeralds are pretty much exclusively used for jewellery usage. They are one of the few ‘precious’ gemstones where inclusions, cracks, and treatment may not significantly affect their value – the colour is more important than clarity.

Historically, Emeralds have been mined in Egypt since at least 1500BCE, and later by the Romans, Byzantines, and Islamic conquerors.  The Egyptian mines were largely abandoned with the discovery of the large deposits in Colombia.


Locales

The largest producer of Emeralds in the world is Colombia, producing somewhere between 50 and 95% of the worlds supply! The second largest supply comes from Zambia.

Good specimens are also found in Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, the USA, and Zambia.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
A variety of Beryl, Be3Al2(SiO3)6.
Colours and Variations

Cats Eye Emeralds: Emeralds with a cats eye effect, known as chatoyancy. Very rare – some sellers try to pass off chatoyant Tourmaline as Emerald.

Star Emeralds: Emeralds with an internal six pointed star, known as asterism. Sometimes Trapiche Emeralds are known as star Emeralds, too.

Trapiche Emeralds: Unusual Emeralds with black inclusions which form a six rayed star, as seen below. Only mined in Colombia!

Streak
White
Luster
Vitreous
Fracture
Conchoidal
Crystal habit
Massive to crystalline, often hexagonal.
Mohs hardness
7.5 – 8
Specific Gravity
Around 2.76
Easiest testing method

One of the easiest methods to distinguish a synthetic gem from a genuine one is to look for fractures and flaws in the stone. A real Emerald will definitely have some.

The most reliable testing, however, involves some additional equipment – ideally a dichroscope, and a set of Chelsea and Emerald filters. However, this will require a long and detailed tutorial which is outside the scope of this page.

Common Treatments
Most Emeralds are oiled after cutting, or otherwise treated to fill small fractures under the surface – this is generally with Opticon or cedar oil.

Photos of Emerald

Beryl-pb14a
Trapiche emerald (cropped)
Beryl-Calcite-d05-4b

5 Emeralds from Colombia
Rough emerald crystals from Panjshir Valley Afghanistan
Béryl var. émeraude sur gangue (Muzo Mine Boyaca - Colombie) -2

Fingerring av guld med smaragder och briljanter, 1800-tal - Hallwylska museet - 110182
Emerald bracelet 3
Armband av guld med ädelstenar och pärla, 1897 - Hallwylska museet - 110128

Hazards and Warnings

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.

When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

Arabic:

  • زمرد

Hindi:

  • पन्ना

Portuguese:

  • esmeralda

Bengali:

  • পান্না

Indonesian:

  • zamrud

Punjabi:

English:

Italian:

  • Smeraldo

Russian:

  • изумруд

French:

  • émeraude

Japanese:

  • エメラルド

Spanish:

  • Esmeralda

German:

  • Smaragd

Korean:

  • 에메랄드

Thai:

  • มรกต

Gujurati:

  • નીલમણિ

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

  • 绿宝石
  • 祖母绿

Urdu:


Further Reading / External Links