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May(be) Emeralds

by Kate McCoy |


Emeralds are precious and very rare gemstones. They belong to the Beryl species of mineral as does Aquamarine. This mineral species grow in a six sided crystal and usually have flat tops. 


What distinguishes Emeralds from Aquamarines or other Beryls is their distinct bluish-green colour.

The green shade is due to their unique chemical composition containing Chromium. However there is a point of discussion amongst gemologists and gem enthusiasts, about the shade of green and where to draw the line. Some lighter stones are classified as a (less expensive) Green Beryl and not an Emerald. A true classification of emerald by the Gemmological Association of America (GIA), is colour graded from a set of master stones. Diamonds are colour graded in the same fashion. This grading system creates parameters for pricing and is helpful to stabilise the investment.

Emeralds have been worn in jewellery for centuries. Be it Cleopatra, who it is claimed had her own mine or Elizabeth Taylor, celebrities and  Royals alike desired and obtained amazing collections of Emerald jewellery.


Angelina Jolie wore an incredible pair of 115carat pear drop Colombian Emerald earrings by Lorraine Schwartz at the 2009 Oscars.


The most aspiring aspect of Angelina Jolie, in my opinion, is her humanitarian anchor. Not only has she worked so hard to achieve her goals in acting, embracing the positive and negative aspects of being a famous public figure, she never seems to loose a sense of mindfulness towards the disparity that exists our world. Using her fame to give profile to these stunning emeralds, these amazing pieces then went on sale at at the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat and Monaco’s prestigious Hotel de Paris between July 15th and August 15th, 2012. All proceeds from the sale collaboration went to the Education Partnership for Children in Conflict to build a school in Afghanistan. (click the link to view projects)

Emeralds are notoriously mined in Columbia, they are also found in Afghanistan, Zambia and Brazil.

Afghani and Zambian Emeralds tend to have a slightly different more cool, bluish light to medium green tone than Columbian Emeralds which are generally a rich green of a medium tone. Both are equally beautiful and prized on their transparency. Another quality to look for is the colour should be evenly distributed throughout the stone with minimal to no colour zoning. 

Zambian Emerald (courtesy of "Bestingems").

Columbian Emeralds; warmer more intense green.


In all honesty, there will always be an overlap in qualities and colours of emeralds from anywhere, these are only guides.

Natural inclusions are apart of an Emerald's beauty. These inclusions are referred to as "jardin",which is French for garden. Green as the lushest of gardens, looking deeply into an emerald, one can envision an everlasting, exotic and mystical "jardin". 


High quality emeralds are very rare, and as such, looking for un-enhanced emeralds is a challenge.

There are some treatments to emeralds that the industry accepts such as oiling. This is because emeralds are in fact quite brittle and depending on the amount of surface reaching fractures due to their natural forming inclusions, oiling can help to keep the stone in good condition.

to learn more see GIA Emerald qualities.

Emeralds are sometimes filled with essential oils, other oils and waxes. Things to be aware of are dyes and dyed oils as well as artificial resins such as epoxy prepolymers, which can reduce the visibility of fractures and enhance the clarity. Some treatments are more stable than others, but regardless of the treatment Emeralds need to be handled with care.

Knowing how to care for your Emerald is also very important. No washing the dishes in emerald rings. The hot water can cause further fractures, especially soapy hot water! Major temperature changes should be avoided, such as wearing your emeralds on your skiing holiday!

What is most important once you have decided on an Emerald, is to seek advice and buy from a trusted source.

Emeralds can also be artificially made by hydrothermal process and generally look too good to be true. So whilst having the exact same  chemical constituents as naturally forming emeralds, they take a lot less long to grow and do not have the variable inclusions or 'jardin' that comes about when the "real deal" forms in the natural environment.

For fashion and costume jewellery, hydrothermal emeralds are a perfect solution for a lower budget purchase.

However, there really is nothing like the "Real McCoy". If you fancy adding an emerald to your collection or have a very special someone in your life that is born in May, an emerald piece of jewellery may just be the perfect gift. Perhaps a simple ring like this would set you back about $2800 - $6000 depending on the size and quality of the Emerald. The lower end of this price range would get you a medium quality emerald, with good transparency and even colour and around 1 carat roughly 6mm x 5mm in size and is the finished product price (ring and setting).


Emeralds are also the twentieth wedding anniversary stone and quite fittingly the folklore of Emeralds having the power to reveal the falseness of a lovers oath is quite a testament to celebrating being happily married for twenty years.... and hopefully another glorious twenty years there after.

I tend to recommend emerald earrings for the more "hands-on" person, and tend not to recommend Emeralds as an engagement ring stone, purely for their lack of durability over a life time of day to day wear. It really does just depend on the person and their lifestyle.

If you need any more information or would like to discuss a custom design with me, please do not hesitate to contact me directly: