A Buyer’s Guide to Emeralds

Are you ready to invest in emeralds, but still have apprehensions regarding this big decision? Pooja Savansukha of Saffronart has put together an informative guide with everything you’d like to know about emeralds.

Undeniably, you have been captivated by the mystical charm of emeralds. You can’t be blamed; it is impossible to resist the deep green radiance that an emerald exudes. In fact, these stones have often been considered to be the most precious stones, greatly revered historically by the Inca’s, the Aztec’s and most notably the Egyptian pharaohs. Today, adorning an emerald instantly places you in the legacy of Cleopatra, Shah Jahan, and many other royal or historic figures. While this may already incentivize you, we have decided to provide you with everything else you should know to help you make your choice to invest in emeralds.

Emeralds and Emerald Formation:

Fine emeralds form naturally when a rare blend of pressure, heat and chemical solutions in the earth causes an emerald to form. Emeralds belong to the beryl family that also consists of aquamarine, heliodor and beryls in other colours. A green beryl is only classified as an emerald when its colour is darker and deeper than an ordinary beryl.  While there are other green gems such as peridot and tourmaline, an emerald is associated with the richest and most extraordinary shade of green.

Considering the origin of emeralds immediately brings to mind ‘Cleopatra’s Mines’ near the red sea in Egypt that are known to be the earliest account of the extraction of these stones, dating back to 3500 BC. Most emeralds embedded in ancient Egyptian jewellery were from these mines. Emeralds have also been procured from Colombian mines since 500 AD.

Currently, emeralds are mined from several countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Afghanistan, India, Zimbabwe, Russia and Pakistan. Colombian mines are known to contain some of the highest quality emeralds in the world. Zambian mines are also gaining prominence for not only producing high quality emeralds but for also adopting the most ethical standards socially, environmentally and in terms of safety while mining.

An Emerald Crystal from a Columbian Mine www.gia.edu/emerald

An Emerald Crystal from a Columbian Mine

Mining emeralds is an extremely delicate process. It is however not the only delicate process that an emerald goes through. Before an emerald is ready for sale, natural emerald crystals extracted from mines must go through several procedures before they attain the shapes, cut and polish that we appreciate so much. Often certain stones may go through numerous additional treatments too, and these affect their value. The easiest way to evaluate an emerald is through the 4 C’s: Colour, Clarity, Cut, and Carats.


The colour of an emerald is indicated by the amount of trace elements such as chromium, vanadium and iron that it contains. The best emeralds have colours that range from a bluish-green to a pure green. Usually, the darker the emerald, the higher its value, but a tone that is too dark is also undesirable. An emerald will be translucent, and the most precious emeralds will be highly transparent, with an even distribution of colour. Remember that if an emerald appears to be too yellowish or bluish in colour, it may not be an emerald, but just another kind of beryl.

Colombian emeralds are generally known to have a pure green colour while Zambian emeralds are said to have a bluish-green colour.


During the formation of an emerald, small amounts of minerals, liquids or other fluid may get trapped into the emerald. These are called inclusions. Too many inclusions can reduce the transparency of an emerald, but a few inclusions are essential to differentiate natural emeralds from synthetics. An emerald may also contain fissures or fractures that affect the clarity of a stone. The most prized emeralds have few inclusions and very minor fractures, if any.

Most emeralds undergo clarity enhancing treatments. Historically, oils have been used to fill fissures and fractures. Resins might also be used as fillers. While both oils and resins have similar effects and are temporary procedures, a resin may last longer as filler. Generally, fillers cause no harm to an emerald and can easily be removed or altered. Emeralds that require the least enhancing treatment are usually the most valuable. You can easily enquire what types of treatment an emerald has been through before buying it.


Emeralds are fragile compared to most precious stones and are easily susceptible to being damaged. Furthermore, most emeralds contain fractures, making them even more vulnerable. But rest assured, for cuts can be used to protect the stone from damage. Usually, the corners of an emerald are cut to create facets that protect them from chipping. The octagonal shape obtained by this kind of cut is known as an emerald cut. While cuts are supposed to be protective do verify that your emerald has been cut well, as an error in the cut can drop the value of your stone. Cuts are also used to create other shapes for emeralds.

An unmounted emerald-cut emerald, the most common cut although emeralds are available in other cuts too http://www.saffronart.com/fixedjewelry/PieceDetails.aspx?iid=41314&a=

An unmounted emerald-cut emerald, the most common cut although emeralds are available in other cuts too

Carat Weight

Emeralds are available in a multitude of sizes. While you might easily assume that a higher carat weight must account for a high value, this is not true. An emeralds value is judged primarily upon its colour and clarity. It is thus completely possible for an emerald with a lighter weight to be a better investment than one with a higher carat weight.


How to Look After your Emeralds?

Emeralds are very delicate and may require more care than other precious stones, but they are beautiful and maintaining them well will ensure that they remain in good condition for a long time. You just need to ensure that you don’t expose your emerald to too much heat or steam, or very strong rays of light from a close proximity. The most ideal way to clean an emerald is gently scrubbing it with slightly warm, mild soapy water.

On an ending note, remember that a good quality emerald is considered to be even more valuable than diamonds.

Check out our Columbian and Zambian Emerald Exhibition catalogue by clicking here

Source: www.gia.edu

Crafting Hands: Sheher

Sneha Sikand of Saffronart on a major mural project currently on display at the Lal Ded Cultural Centre in Kashmir

Srinagar: Eminent artists Nilima Sheikh and B.V. Suresh have collaborated with several master craftsmen from the Kashmir valley to put together a mural to be installed at the new terminal in Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai. The exhibit includes paintings on papier-mâché and carved sculpture in wood, along with examples of ‘khatamband’ and ‘pinjrakari’ panels and glazed terracotta tiles.

‘Khatamband’ is the art of constructing a ceiling by fitting small pieces of wood together in a geometrical pattern. It is all done by hand, without the use of any nails.

‘Pinjrakari’ is the making of doors, windows and ventilators by arranging small wooden pieces in geometric form to display their edges. Each creation is typically held together by the pressure each piece exerts on the other and by the frame of the panel.

Artist Nilima Sheikh’s recent works have focused a great deal on Kashmir, particularly drawing inspiration from the poetry of Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali, which formed the core of her recent series titled “The Country Without A Post Office – Reading Agha Shahid Ali.”

This yet to be completed mural titled ‘Conjoining Lands’ is a 6,800 sq foot multimedia project which will eventually be installed at the Mumbai airport. The mural materialises several long standing traditions of artists and craftsman from the valley.

The exhibition will be inaugurated by Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir on May 31, 2013, and will be on display till June 2, 2013.

Crossing Over: Pakistani Art in India

Sneha Sikand of Saffronart on the latest group exhibition of art from Pakistan showcased in the Indian capital

Alif by Mohammad Ali TalpurImage credit: Latitude 28

Alif by Mohammad Ali Talpur
Image credit: Latitude 28

New Delhi: Currently on view at Latitude 28New Delhi, is a group show of Pakistani artists curated by Ambereen Karamat. Gallery director Bhavna Kakar says, “Crossing Over is the bringing of disparate artworks intended to explore new meanings that at times merge and diverge creating crossovers with each other on irregularly chartered routes; the exhibition hopes to explore these new meanings fashioned within the boundaries effervescing globally.”

Science Philosophy Religion IV by Sajjad AhmedImage credit: Latitude 28

Science Philosophy Religion IV   by Sajjad Ahmed
Image credit: Latitude 28

Saira SheikhImage credit: Latitude 28

Drawings on wasli
by Saira Sheikh
Image credit: Latitude 28

Darling tere liye by Muzzamil RuheelImage credit: Latitude 28

Darling tere liye
by Muzzamil Ruheel
Image credit: Latitude 28

The key element is the combining of established and emerging artists, to meet at a transit threshold. The exhibition focuses on new works at the point that acts as a bridge, a crossing over, to the other direction. With common use of visual references to images that work enigmatically around us in multiple layers, the artists have tinged this imperceptible relation between art and reality.

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The exhibition will be running till March 2, 2013.

Homelands: Raising Questions of Identity

Sneha Sikand of Saffronart on an upcoming travelling exhibition of Contemporary Art from the British Council Collection

HomelandsImage credit: www.britishcouncil.in

Image credit: British Council

New Delhi: On view from 22 January at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is a collection of eighty works by twenty eight leading modern and contemporary artists from Britain. The works are from the art collection of the British Council and the show has been curated by  Latika Gupta. With a growing number of people moving away from their roots and places of origin, ‘homeland’ is a widely discussed concept. In this exhibit Gupta tries to raise questions about “what constitutes a homeland”.

“Is it ethnicity, language, religion, customs and beliefs. Are homelands those in which our ancestors were born? What of outsiders who live and make other lands their homes? Where do we really belong? Where is it that we hope to one day return?” Gupta asks.

Image Credit: British Council

Image Credit: British Council

The exhibition will travel across four Indian cities – New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai. Four of the showcased artists will be visiting the exhibition in India, including Mona Hatoum, Anthony Haughey, Zineb Sedira and Suki Dhanda. During their stay, the artists will engage with audiences, give public talks and conduct workshops.

Read more about the upcoming exhibit here.

A Jubilant Quest for the Chromatic: Gopal Ghose @NGMA

Sneha Sikand of Saffronart on the latest exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi

New Delhi: To commemorate the birth centenary of eminent artist Gopal GhoseAkar Prakar in collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Ministry of Culture, the Lath Sarvodaya Trust and the artist’s daughter Deepa Bose, has organized an exhibition comprising a comprehensive collection from Ghose’s body of work. Curated by Sanjoy Kumar Mallik, the exhibit includes works by the artist dating from the 1930s to the 1980s. Known particularly for his use of bright colours and sharp lines, Ghose was one of the founder members of the Calcutta Group which was founded in 1943.

Gopal Ghose’s earliest works include several sketches of the Bengal famineHe painted several landscapes during this time, but not with the idyllic imagery of a rural setting, instead shifting his attention to the plight of the people suffering due to the famine. His style of painting was reminiscent of the European Modernist tradition. The works will be on display till the 20th of January, 2013.

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