In a set of poems released by Tiffany & Co. in 1870, each month is matched with a gemstone. The poem for May reads:
“Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet flowery month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and happy wife.”
Emerald is a rich forest green color gemstone. It is a member of the Beryl mineral family along with siblings Aquamarine and Morganite. Emerald is also a member of the four precious gemstones along with Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond.
Emerald‘s chemical composition includes the elements Beryllium (Be), Aluminum (Al), Silicon (Si) and Oxygen (O). The dark green color of Emerald is created by trace element Chromium (Cr), and sometimes Vanadium (V). Green Beryl is only considered an Emerald if it has a strong green to dark green color. The lighter green Beryls are simply called “Green Beryl.” This is very similar to Ruby Vs. Pink Sapphire and Rubellite Vs. Pink Tourmaline.
Emerald (and other beryls) are quite hard at about 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. The emerald is often clouded by inclusions. They are not classified as faults but show the difference between natural and synthetic stone. Almost all natural emeralds are treated with oil to fill in and diminish the appearance of these inclusions and fissures. Due to these inclusions and fissures, emeralds can be rather brittle or fragile. A little extra care is needed when using emeralds in jewelry.
Unlike Diamonds, Emeralds’ clarity is judged by the naked unaided eye because of these inherent inclusions. Diamonds are generally judged with a 10x loupe for their clarity.
Columbia is currently the largest producer of fine Emerald gemstones. Brazil and Zambia are also very large producers of fine Emeralds. Brazilian emeralds are prized for their excellent clarity and slightly yellowish green color, while Zambian emeralds are desired for their slightly bluish green color, which is similar to that of Colombia’s ’emerald-green’ emeralds.
The Gachala Emerald is one of the largest gem emeralds in the world, at 858 carats (171.6 g). This stone was found in 1967 at La Vega de San Juan mine in Gachalá, Colombia. It is housed at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. One of the world’s largest emeralds is the so-called ‘Mogul Emerald’. It dates from 1695, weighs 217.80 carats, and is some 10cm tall. One side of it is inscribed with prayer texts, and there are magnificent floral engravings on the other side. This legendary emerald was auctioned by Christie’s of London to an unidentified buyer for 2.2 million dollars on September 28th, 2001.The New York Museum of Natural History, exhibits a cup made of pure emerald, which belonged to the Emperor Jehangir, next to the ‘Patricia’, one of the largest Colombian emerald crystals, which weighs 632 carats.The Viennese treasury contains a vase, 4.5 inches (12 cm) high, with a weight of 2205 carats, which was cut from a single emerald crystal.
Both hydrothermal and flux-growth synthetics have been produced, and a method has been developed for producing an emerald overgrowth on colorless beryl. Hydrothermal synthetic emeralds have been attributed to IG Farben, Nacken, Tairus, and others. The first satisfactory commercial product appeared on the market in the 1960s. These stones were initially sold under the names “Emerita” and “Symeralds”, and they were grown as a thin layer of emerald on top of natural colorless beryl stones.The largest producer of hydrothermal emeralds today is Tairus in Russia, which has succeeded in synthesizing emeralds with chemical composition similar to emeralds in alkaline deposits in Colombia, and whose products are thus known as “Colombian Created Emeralds” or “Tairus Created Emeralds”.
Emerald is thought to bring good luck and enhance well-being. The magnificent green of the emerald is a color which conveys harmony, love of nature, life and of the springtime. It has also, for centuries, been the color of beauty and of constant love. In ancient Rome, green was the color of Venus, the goddess of beauty and love. Today, this color still occupies a special position in many cultures and religions. Emerald is also thought to be a stone of wisdom, enhancing memory and increasing mental clarity. Emerald is the anniversary gemstone for commemorating the 20th and 35th year of marriage.