-Are all emeralds green?|
Yes, in order for a gemstone to be referred to as an emerald, it must have a certain intensity and saturation of green color within the green-yellow or blue-yellow color hues. If the gemstone does not meet this criteria of the right color hue, correct saturation and intensity, it should correctly be called green-beryl and not emerald.
-Where are the emerald mines located?
The emerald mining areas in Colombia are basically located in two different states. The most important producers (Muzo and Coscuez) are in the state of Boyaca, about 200 kmt north from Bogota, and comprise the "Special Emerald Reserve". The second producing area is located in the eastern part of the state of Cundinamarca. In this region lie the Chivor and Gachala mining areas. These two main producing areas, even though hundreds of kilometers away from each other, share the same geological fault. To date, no additional mining areas have been discovered in Colombia.
-Is Colombia the only emerald producer?
No, Colombia is not the only emerald producer. Colombia is the largest producer in dollar value in recent years. Other countries like Brazil and Zambia produce substantial volumes of emeralds but the quality is lower in the larger size goods. There are other producers like Sandawala in Africa, the Ural mountains in Russia and the high altitude emerald deposits of Afghanistan.
-Who owns the emerald mines?
The emerald mines, as all other mineral rights in Colombia are owned by the State. The State leases out areas to private companies or individuals. There are two basic types of permits. A permit granted for the exploitation of larger areas and other permits for small mining projects. The payment is established in proportion to the areas granted. A flat rate is established independent of the levels of production.
-How can you know if an emerald is from Colombia?
Normally, Colombian Emeralds have a particular color and intensity. An experienced dealer learns to distinguish the subtleties of color, to the point of being able, in most cases, to ascertain the provenance of a stone by observing the color and intensity, along with a thorough examination at magnification of 10X . From a more scientific approach, the correct identification of the origin of a gemstone, can be established by means of microscopic analysis using magnifications up to 120X . If no conclusion can be drawn from a careful microscopic observation, a variety of sophisticated techniques can be employed such as an electronic scanning microscope. In any event, the correct identification can be established, since each gemstone carries within a collection of chemical traces and mineral inclusions matching the geology of the mine of origin.
-Do synthetic emeralds exist?
Yes, they are very common and becoming more common every day. Emeralds were the latecomers into the synthetic market due to complications in the manufacturing process. The first synthetic corundum (ruby and sapphire) appeared in the market at the end of 19th century. Emeralds were manufactured successfully only until 1954. Today there is more than a dozen producers scattered worldwide producing high quality synthetic emeralds for laser use and the gemstone market.
-Can you easily tell the difference between natural and synthetic emeralds?
No, it is extremely difficult in some cases to establish the difference between a natural and a synthetic stone. There has been instances were individuals have paid astronomical amounts of money for what ended up being a synthetic stone. If you are not an expert in the field of gem identification, we recommend buying your Emeralds from qualified, well established gem dealers. If in doubt, ask to have the stone identified by an independent gemologist or laboratory.
-What factors affect the price of an emerald?
As with all other color gems, the price of emeralds depends mostly on the quality of the color, being ideal, a rich green-yellowish (or green-bluish), medium to high saturation and a high degree of brilliance. Clarity or the amount of internal damage affect the price. The cleaner the stone the higher the value. The cut and general proportion must also be taken into account. The stone should be well proportioned and meticulously cut and polished. The size obviously affects the price; as the size of the stone increases, so does the price per carat. It is extremely unusual to find a large emerald, of over 10 carats that will be "eye clean", which means it has the perfect color and brilliancy. When a large, eye clean stone appears in the market, it fetches exorbitant prices.
-How big is a big emerald?
Commercially speaking, an emerald over ten carats is considered a "big" stone. There is, however, a special market for crown jewels and special ornaments that exhibit emeralds of hundreds of carats. Emeralds in rough have been known to occur in sizes of thousands of carats. There is a number of this large hexagonal crystals in museums in various parts of the world. -Are emeralds fashioned like diamonds?
No, each gemstone, because of the unique way in which it transmits light when passing trough it, must be fashioned to take the best advantage of this phenomena. How light behaves trough the stone depends on the refractive index of the material and its hardness. Emeralds are normally fashioned and best exhibit their color, when fashioned in the rectangular or square "emerald cut". When stones are fashioned in their ideal proportion, the light the stone returns to the eye is maximized by the proper cut of the pavilion facets and ideal polish.
-How does the price of emerald compare to the price of diamonds and other gems?
Like the other big commercial gemstones, diamonds, ruby and Sapphire, emeralds rank side by side and are considered by some to fetch the highest prices after diamonds. This, however, is an open issue since the price of each individual color stone depends on varying factors that are not as clearly laid out as the pricing structure of diamonds. Sporadically high quality emeralds in sizes below 20 carats have fetched prices in the levels of 20.000 to 40.000 us dollars per carat.
-How can I best care for my emeralds?
Emeralds, like all other gemstones must be guarded against direct impact. Even a diamond if dropped on a marble floor or hit with force against a hard surface can fracture, abrade or remain with a concussion mark. Emeralds should not be exposed to drastic temperature changes that may affect the integrity of the stone. Because of the nature of the oiling process to which emeralds are exposed to after fashioning, care must be taken when applying hot water and soap to the gemstones. It is best recommended to remove your jewelry before washing your hands with hot water.
-How hard are emeralds compared with other gemstones?
The hardness of a material is the resistance the material has to scratching. The Moh´s scale of hardness places emerald hardness between 8-8.5, meaning it will be scratched by minerals with hardness equal or superior to 8-8.5. The hardness of emerald is below that of diamond (10) and corundum (9). However, emerald because of its irregular cleavage, is difficult to simply fracture. The toughness, which is the resistance to breakage, is considered medium-high in emeralds, as it is in other gemstones.