Mineral Review

Should an emerald be transparent or cloudy?

Remember the movie “Romancing the Stone”? The one where the characters of Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner went on an exciting adventure through Colombia in search of a precious stone? What kind of stone was this? Of course, emerald is a stone!

History and origin

Emerald is a gemstone with a rich history. Mentions of it are already found in the most ancient texts and chronicles. Egyptian pharaohs and members of their families decorated themselves with jewelry with gems, considering them as a symbol of wealth and high status – the minerals were mined in desert mines. The Roman Emperor Nero was also a great connoisseur of their beauty. His passion did not go unnoticed by Pliny the Elder, here is an excerpt from his “Natural History”: “Emperor Nero watched gladiator fights through an emerald.” Some say that Nero needed the emerald monocle because he was nearsighted. Others say it was an early version of sunglasses. Representatives of the upper class in medieval Europe considered emeralds to be the most important attributes of greatness and power and endowed them with special meaning and mystical symbolism. They were also used to create religious artifacts. This was due to the belief in their magical and healing properties. The medieval theologian and scientist Albertus Magnus, the mentor of Thomas Aquinas, considered them the most powerful mineral, capable of attracting love and revealing the truth to its owner. The beauty of emerald is woven into the fabric of the history of art and architecture. Thus, the great architect Antonio Gaudi used the deep green color of this mineral in his projects, expressing respect for the secrets and power of nature. Masters of the House of Fabergé rarely used solo emeralds when creating jewelry eggs, but when they did, the eggs were always intended for members of the imperial family. They are also firmly entrenched in the history of jewelry: the best jewelers of the 20th century traveled all over the world in search of exceptional minerals. More than one collection is dedicated to the beauty of gems, including jewelry with emerald inclusions. Actress Elizabeth Taylor was famous for her obsessive love of jewelry. The crown jewel of her collection is an emerald necklace with diamonds given by Richard Burton during the filming of the film Cleopatra.

Physicochemical characteristics

The basis of emerald is the mineral beryl. Its chemical formula Al2Be3(Si6O18) is a combination of beryllium, aluminum, silicon and oxygen atoms. How is beryl turned into emerald? It’s all about the impurities. If atoms of chromium and vanadium are built into the crystal lattice of beryl, it acquires that amazing green tint. The amount of impurities in the mineral can range from only 0,1% to 3%, but they determine the color, which varies from light to dark green. The purer and richer the shade, the higher the cost of this jewelry. Another of its features is the property of “emitting” green color when illuminated. This phenomenon, associated with the specific distribution of chromium and vanadium, is called “emerald green” or “emerald effect”. The mineral has a hardness of 7,5-8 on the Mohs scale, which is an impressive indicator, but at the same time it is quite fragile and requires very careful handling and care. Uniqueness, a combination of hardness and fragility, brightness and depth of color. The emerald gemstone is truly a mystery of nature, and its very name has become synonymous with rare beauty.

Place of extraction

Today there are over 40 deposits in the world. The most common precious crystals on the world market are from 15 deposits. These are Colombia, Zambia, Brazil, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, China, Austria, USA and Canada. Extraction is a complex and risky process. And not just because this gem is located deep underground. The point is the fragility of the mineral. Its extraction requires special equipment and technology. The skills and experience of workers are of great importance. Very few countries can boast of all this: Colombia, Zambia, Brazil, Madagascar and Russia. Colombia One of the most important moments in the history of this mineral was the discovery of large deposits in Colombia in the 70th century – Muzo and Chivor. Colombian gems are renowned for their rich green color and superior quality. But deposits in Colombia have been known since the pre-Columbian era, and since then it has been a leader in production, accounting for 90 to XNUMX% of world production. Zambia The Kafubu deposits, known since 1928, make Zambia the second largest producer after Colombia. Zambian minerals account for about 20% of the world’s total. Brazil The first deposits in Brazil were discovered back in the 1960th century, but the active development of the industry began only in the 10s. Today Brazil accounts for about XNUMX% of world production. Madagascar Madagascar minerals from the Manandona region “roared” throughout the world recently – in the 1990s. Every year they become more and more popular. Madagascar currently contributes approximately 1-2% to global production. Russia In the Urals, 60 kilometers from Yekaterinburg near the village of Malysheva, there is a deposit 25 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide. This is the only deposit in Eurasia that was discovered in 1830-1831. During Soviet times, the Urals were the largest emerald producer in the world. But even today, Ural gems remain the standard of quality and are highly valued for their special rich shade and purity. However, mining is more than the process of obtaining the precious stone itself. This is also cleaning, cutting, polishing. Everything that turns it into a jewelry masterpiece. The skill of Russian cutters, their ability to reveal the inner beauty and brilliance of a mineral make Ural crystals especially valuable for collectors and jewelry lovers around the world.

Varieties of emerald

The main thing that distinguishes emeralds from each other is color. It can range from light green to dark green and come in a variety of shades, including bluish-green and blue-green. Crystals from different countries differ in transparency and purity. Some minerals have absolute transparency, and with it greater value. Some have small inclusions. Colombian Colombian emeralds are perhaps the most famous in the world. The intense and pure green color, with virtually no blue or yellow tints, makes them the most valuable and desirable for collectors and jewelers. Zambian Zambian emeralds are recognized for their deep, rich hue, sometimes referred to as “bottle green.” They have fewer inclusions, which appeals to those looking for a particularly “clean” piece of jewelry. Brazilian A distinctive feature of Brazilian emeralds is their light, vibrant green hue. Due to fewer inclusions, they have greater transparency and purity. Madagascar Madagascar emeralds are famous for their “smoky” or “milky” effect, which gives them a special charm and uniqueness. Russian Ural emeralds are known for their soft shine. During the reign of the Romanovs, many jewelry pieces were inlaid with Ural gems. They personified the greatness and wealth of the Russian tsars and played an important role in the royal regalia.

artificial emeralds

Artificial emeralds (or synthetic) are the product of a special technology that imitates the natural process of gemstone formation. Their creation involves the use of minerals and chemical compounds that are heated to high temperatures and then cooled. This is how a crystal structure is formed, identical to the natural one. This produces an emerald that is very similar in appearance to natural, but at a lower cost. Due to the growing popularity of laboratory emeralds, an ethical dilemma has arisen: how to distinguish between artificial and natural ones? Differences can be detected using special equipment. Thus, under a microscope, differences in the structure of internal inclusions and cracks are noticeable. And although artificial gems have less value than their natural counterparts, they represent an important segment of the jewelry market. And most importantly, they allow more people to enjoy the beauty of a magical gemstone. The first artificial emerald was produced in 1935 in the USA. This happened thanks to the work of chemist Carroll Church, who developed a process for synthesizing crystals in the laboratory. Since then, the production of artificial analogues has spread throughout the world. In Russia, the first artificial analogue was created in 1965 in the laboratory of the State Research Institute of Jewelry and Base Metals (GNIIYuINM) in Moscow under the leadership of Professor Sergei Vladimirovich Vorobyov, which became a serious contribution of Russia to the development of the market of artificial precious stones. Today, a significant part of artificial analogues is produced in the USA, Russia, Switzerland and some others. One of the leading companies is ALROSA, known for its experience and technological achievements in the field of gemstone synthesis.

Use of emeralds

Jewelry, fashion, architecture, industry, medicine, cooking – the emerald gemstone is actively involved in all areas of our lives. Jewelry: Emeralds are used as decoration in jewelry. Magnificent necklaces, rings, earrings, tiaras and bracelets attract attention with the special glow of the stones and elegance. An example of such jewelry masterpieces is the “Emerald Crown” of Queen Elizabeth II, created in 1953. Fashion: Designers turn to gems to create luxurious dresses, accessories and shoes. It was these gems that Giorgio Armani decorated the dress of actress Naomi Watts at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. Industrials: Actively used in the creation of lasers and other electronic devices. Architecture: This mineral is good for decorating luxurious interiors. Thus, some designers create “emerald accents” in the form of table lamps, vases or decorative elements. In medicine: The light-conducting properties of the mineral are used in some medical instruments and optical devices to improve diagnostic accuracy and surgical procedures.

How to distinguish a real emerald

If you are a person without special education, then distinguishing a real emerald from a fake can be difficult. But here are a few characteristics that indicate authenticity and quality. Color: The crystals have a characteristic green color. Its description ranges from light green to dark green. A real emerald has a natural, vibrant color that is extremely attractive to the eye. Be careful with stones that are bright green or unnatural in color – they may be fake. Transparency: A real emerald has a certain degree of transparency that allows light to penetrate. It may be distinguished by some inclusions, confirming the natural origin of the mineral. However, if it is too cloudy, it will most likely turn out to be a fake. Rigidity: The gemstone is a medium-hard mineral, with a hardness of about 7,5-8 on the Mohs scale. You can test the hardness by tapping it on a hard surface. A real emerald will have a stable structure and will not be scratched. Price: Emeralds are rare stones. Be careful: a suspiciously low price may indicate that this is a fake. Uniqueness: Each emerald is unique and has its own individual characteristics. Study it carefully and pay attention to its texture, inclusions and play of light. A real crystal is distinguished by natural beauty – not perfect or ideal. Certification: Contact certified jewelers and specialists who can conduct an examination and provide an accurate description of the crystal. A Certificate of Authenticity will give you confidence in the quality and value of the stone.

Caring for emeralds

These few care tips will help preserve their natural beauty, natural shine and highest value. Cleaning: To clean your jewelry, use a soft brush (such as a soft-bristled toothbrush) and a soft cloth dampened with warm, soapy water. Clean your gemstone gently, avoiding applying too much pressure to avoid damaging it. After cleaning, rinse the emerald thoroughly with water and wipe it with a dry soft cloth. Chemical protection: Emeralds are sensitive to chemicals. Try to keep them away from harsh chemicals such as acids, alkalis and ammonia. Also avoid using abrasives that may damage the surface of the stone. Impact protection: Despite their relative hardness, these minerals are still quite brittle and can be easily damaged by impact or extreme pressure. It is recommended to wear emerald jewelry only on special occasions and treat it with the utmost care. Storage: Store emerald gemstones separately from other jewelry to avoid scratches and damage, for example, in a soft fabric bag or in a special jewelry box with compartments. It is also recommended to avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Professional cleaning: Jewelry requires professional cleaning and polishing. They can only be performed by a qualified jeweler who has experience working with such gems. Regular professional examinations The jeweler will be able to check the gemstones for cracks, inclusions or other problems and perform repairs or restorations if necessary. We hope the article was useful to you and you were able to learn more about the beautiful gemstone – emerald. Emerald is a jewelry stone that has been known to people since ancient times. It is a green variety of the mineral beryl. Bright green large specimens adorn the royal regalia of great rulers and are also very popular among modern jewelry lovers. Transparent emeralds, along with rubies, sapphires, alexandrites and diamonds, belong to a special category of precious stones. What are emeralds valued for? Let’s consider the factors that influence their beauty, quality and cost. One important factor is rarity. Transparent gem-quality emeralds are much less common than well-known gemstones such as amethysts, citrines, red garnets, blue topazes and peridots. Natural emeralds, in addition to their rarity, are especially famous for their pleasant green color. In this part, we will look at the three main characteristics that affect the value of an emerald: color, clarity and weight. In the second part, we will look at factors such as cutting, its deposits, etc., which also affect pricing. We’ll also tell you about interesting varieties. In the third part we will show you real prices per carat.


The color of an emerald is the main evaluation factor influencing the perception of its beauty. Stones of bright, saturated (not light) green colors are valued. The highest quality emeralds have an almost pure spectral green color, sometimes with a bluish tint. Greens with a yellowish tint are less valuable. The least valued are light emeralds or those with a grayish tint. Samples that are too dark are unattractive for some people. In low light, dark emeralds appear dull and do not play well. But keep in mind that the approach to color assessment is that dark green emeralds with a dense color will usually be more expensive than light ones. Uncut clear emeralds can have zonal or mottled coloration with varying levels of green saturation, so it is important that a cut emerald has an even distribution of color throughout the entire volume when viewed from the table side of the stone. In the photo above: green beryl color standards from Colombia. Museum of the Gemological Institute of Thailand “ Practical advice. When buying an expensive large emerald, first of all, evaluate the color. The most important thing here is that you like him. Some people like light emeralds, others like dark emeralds. Rock the stone in tweezers or in your hands, looking at it from the side of the platform. It is advisable to evaluate the color under different types of lighting: under different lamps, daylight near a window or outdoors. Pay attention to how light or dark the emerald you choose is, as well as its saturation, color distribution throughout the volume and additional color shades. The beauty of a stone depends very much on its color.”


The next factor is the purity of the emerald. Jewelry emerald is classified as a type of stone that typically contains a large number of inclusions and cracks, so the assessment of purity is not very strict. Gas-liquid veils usually act as inclusions, which can add some “liveness” to a pure cut emerald with their iridescence in the light. Absolutely pure, large, transparent specimens, without inclusions or cracks, are practically never found in nature; they are extremely rare. Opaque (impure) pieces of raw material are usually used to make cabochons. They, of course, have a much lower cost. In the photo: samples of similar quality. However, the example on the right has a dark contrasting inclusion that immediately catches the eye. Therefore, the purer emerald on the left looks better “ Practical advice. After you evaluate the color, evaluate the purity. Make sure the stone is well rubbed and free of surface contamination. First check for cleanliness with the naked eye in good lighting. Are there any large cracks or inclusions that are noticeable? It is advisable that they are not in the center of the stone. See if internal irregularities greatly affect the overall attractiveness of the stone. You can then check whether the emerald is pure using a 10x triplet loupe for a more thorough analysis. At the same time, pay attention to whether there are large cracks in the sample that extend to its surface. The presence of such defects affects the quality and they can affect the durability of the stone. For example, from a slight accidental blow it can split along these cracks. The number of even barely noticeable cracks emerging on the surface of the faces should be minimal. Surface cracks are best seen in reflected light; to do this, you need to position the emerald relative to the light source in such a way as to catch the highlights on the edges.”

The weight

The mass of the stone is the next characteristic. The larger the natural emerald, the higher its cost per carat. Because rarity already influences here – large stones are found less often than small ones. Unlike rubies, sapphires or diamonds, large emeralds are more often found in nature; although they are rare, their quantity on the world market is greater than the above listed stones. In the photo: a large 11-carat example from Colombia “ Practical advice. You can roughly estimate how a cut emerald will look when mounted in a product. To do this, you need to place the stone on top of your fingers. Shake your palm in different lighting and appreciate the overall appeal and quality. Do you like him or not? In the same way, by placing several samples on your fingers at the same time, you can compare them to choose the best one.” On video: large Colombian emerald – 9,46 ct – In the second part we will look at factors such as the cut of the emerald, its deposits, the presence of refining and the certificate. We’ll also tell you about the varieties.
– In the third part we will show you the real prices for emerald per carat.

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