Stone Of The Month - May - Emerald
The month of May brings us to our next stone of the month; the ancient Emerald.
The emerald is the other well-known stone from the Beryl family. We looked at the Aquamarine already, but arguably, the emerald is far better known. The emerald has been mined for an incredibly long time, with enough history still in existence to show that they were greatly prized during the reign of Alexander the Great around 330BC. Most emeralds in centuries gone by claimed to have been mined in Egypt in what were called 'Cleopatra Mines', however today they can be found in several parts of the world.
The stone itself differs in appearance depending on where it has been mined, with the general opinion that those found in Columbia were of the finest standard. These emeralds are of a stunning grassy green colour, often referred to as green fire. Emeralds found in Brazil have a more yellow tone with less inclusions, and most other emeralds found across the world feature a blue/green colour due to vanadium. A perfectly flawless and clear emerald is an incredibly rare find and a large specimen will reach incredibly high prices. However, most emeralds typically feature a vast number of inclusions which certainly makes them a very interesting stone to look at. However, due to the tumultuous way in which they are created, they are very brittle, and their hefty quantity of inclusions are accompanied by gas bubbles, crystals, minute fissures and surface voids. This obviously makes emeralds sometimes quite difficult to use within jewellery as it is not a hardy stone, and severely reduces the value, as the common perception is that these inclusions are imperfections. In fact, this is what resulted in the creation of the Emerald Cut, which was designed to limit the number of vulnerable points on a polished stone when it is placed in its setting.
Over the last two thousand years, people have spent time and skill in learning how to reduce the visible effects of fissures on the stone, in order to unlock its full potential to make it as desirable as possible. By permeating the emerald with a minute amount of colourless oil or resin, its appearance is able to be enhanced without damaging it or making it look fake, which is why this practice is very common and acceptable within the industry. However, as the desire to have the most perfect emerald increases, so do the frowned upon practices such as dyeing and creation of imitations and synthetics.