The emerald is a precious gift of nature, prized as one of four mythical gemstones along with the rubies of Mogok, the sapphires of Kashmir and the diamonds of Golconda. The emerald transcended earthly forces and time itself to come into existence through a geological miracle over 65 million years ago. When volcanic forces brought beryllium into contact with chromium and vanadium from ancient seabeds. Thus the elements of ﬁre and water achieved an impossible alchemy that crystallized into a legendary gemstone.
The emerald dazzles in its rough state with impressive dimensions and an almost perfect hexagonal geometry. Its powerful and intense green color is lit by a streak of ﬂuorescence. At ﬁrst glance the effect is mesmerizing. The color – almost surreal, silky smooth, neither too yellowish nor too bluish– takes the breath away.
The sparkle of the emerald’s vibrant fire casts a velvety soft light. In the skillful hands of gem-cutters, the stone is carved into a multitude of facets to reveal a dazzling radiance that captivates the gaze, shimmering and ﬂickering from within in a never-ending dance of light.
Etymology and History
Emerald is a variety of the hexagonal crystallizing silicate mineral beryl and has a Mohs hardness of 7.5 to 8. Its chemical composition is described by Al2Be3[Si6O18]. The color is green by admixture of chromium and vanadium ions, the line color is white.
The word 'emerald' was extracted from the Latin emeraldus from the Greek σμάραγδος, smáragdos (green stone) and is related to Sanskrit marakatam (green); presumably, however, the word is of Semitic origin, see akkad. barraqtu 'shining stone', to the root BRQ 'shining' and Hebrew ברקת (bāreqet), 'emerald' to ברק (bâraq), 'flashing'.
The beginnings of emerald mining lie in ancient Egypt. The precious stones were extracted there as early as around the 13th century BC; the mines of Sikait and Sabara supplied Europe with precious minerals for more than a thousand years. The stones were also in great demand in the Orient among Persians, Ottomans and the Mughal rulers of India. When the Spaniards conquered South America in the 16th century, they also encountered a lively trade with the stones there, which stretched from Colombia to Chile and Mexico. The muzo mine they captured in 1573 replaced the Egyptian sources. Today, 55 percent of all emeralds worldwide come from Colombia.
In 1935, I.G. Farben in Bitterfeld was the first company to produce synthetic emeralds of grindable quality. They were sold for advertising purposes under the name Igmerald, an artificial word from I.G. and the English word emerald for emerald.
Inclusions in emeralds are normal and are called jardins. Unlike diamonds, inclusions do not reduce prices if they are not disturbing.
Trapiche - Emerald
Trapiche-Emerald, a rare variety in the form of a wagon wheel with six spokes (no twin), mainly coming from Colombia, formed by inclusions and special growth processes.
Emerald Cat's Eye
Emerald cat's eye, with cat's eye effect
Formation and Locations
Emeralds are found in pegmatite veins, especially in granites, but also in metamorphic rocks such as gneiss and as mineral soap in river sediments. The crystals are rarely larger than a few centimetres and their quality is mostly impaired by cracks, inclusions (often biotite and other mica or liquids) and admixtures of other minerals. Their occurrence is linked to tectonic fault zones.
Important deposits can be found in Colombia, Brazil and the Ural Mountains. Smaller occurrences can be found in southern Africa. The only relevant sites in Europe are in Habachtal in Austria (Emerald Mine Habachtal) and at Byrud Gård in Akershus, Norway. Emeralds used to be mined there. There is also Egyptian origin for antiquity.
Use as jewellery stone
Emeralds were and are appreciated by many cultures of the earth as particularly valuable jewellery or precious stones. Especially emeralds from Brazil can achieve higher prices than diamonds of the same size due to their strong green.
The preferred type of cut for clear emerald crystals is the "emerald cut" named after it, an octagonal stair cut, which was developed with consideration for the shock sensitivity of the stone.
Mogul Emerald Mystic
The Mogul Mughal Emerald is one of the largest emeralds known. Auction house Christie's described it as:
The rectangular-cut emerald known as 'The Mogul Mughal' weighing 217.80 carats, the obverse engraved with Shi'a invocations in elegant naskh script, dated 1107 A.H., the reverse carved all over with foliate decoration, the central rosette flanked by single large poppy flowers, with a line of three smaller poppy flowers either side, the bevelled edges carved with cross pattern incisions and herringbone decoration, each of the four sides drilled for attachments, 2.06 by 1.56 by 1.56 inches (5.2 by 4.0 by 4.0 cm)
Originally mined in Colombia, it was sold in India, where emeralds were much desired by the rulers of the Mughal Empire. The Mogul Mughal is unique among Mughal emeralds in bearing a date - 1107 A.H. (1695-1696 AD) - which is within the reign of Aurangzeb, the sixth emperor. However, the Mughal rulers were Sunni, whereas the inscription is Shi'a, making it likely that it belonged not to Aurangzeb, but to one of his courtiers or officers.
It was sold on 27 September 2001 by Christie's for £1,543,750.