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

Bejewelled Museum of London

Shradha Ramesh unearths the tale of green stone ‘The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels’

New York: Like The Castafiore Emerald in The Adventures of Tin Tin, one is found caught in the glittery mystery of hoard found near St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. A collection of 400 pieces of 16th and 17th century jewellery box that belonged to Queen Elizabethan and Jacobean found buried in a cellar in Cheapside. The stories and assumption of the hoard burial is vast and varying. Significance of the hoard as mentioned by curator Hazel Forsyth is “It is the largest hoard of its kind, dating from the very late 16th to the early 17th century. Part of the reason why it’s so important is that jewelry tends to be broken up, refashioned, reworked, and so therefore doesn’t survive. Because this was buried and lay undisturbed for the better part of 300 years, it survived in the condition that it has. And it covers a huge spectrum of jewelry designs and types, but also gem material from many parts of the world, which really underlines London’s role in the international gem and jewelry trade in this period.”

Watch|Colombian emerald crystal|1600 circa

Watch|Colombian emerald crystal|1600 circa. Image Credit: http://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/FA13-cheapside-hoard-weldon

The sensational jewellery exhibit this year is ‘The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels’ showcased by the Museum of London. With luminous green Columbian emerald watch that allows you to read time through a closed lucid lid that makes one completely spell bound and speechless. And the man-made craftsmanship accentuates the beauty of the gemstone. To further enhance the visual milieu of mineral species of green stones the beryl Gemfields ‘Medusa’ emerald entrapped in its natural existence and being enveloped by crystal quartz adds the much needed emphasis. The emerald permeates light and invites attention of the spectators from across the room.

According to Saffronart jewellery guide, the emeralds from Columbia South America are world renowned and the ‘Emerald belt ‘of America is found in Cordillera Oriental mountain range of the Andes. And among emeralds from around the world, the gemstone is believed to ward off evil and cure diseases like cholera and malaria. The underlying theme and reference to Columbian emeralds were romance and were also subject to adventures of sixteenth-century Spanish plunder and trade. A gemstone with rich history and mystery makes it a must see this winter.

A salamander brooch made from Colombian cabochon emeralds and table-cut diamonds from India, set in gold. It originates from somewhere between the 16th and 17th century, when the salamander had particular symbolic significance.

A salamander brooch made from Colombian cabochon emeralds and table-cut diamonds from India, set in gold. It originates from somewhere between the 16th and 17th century, when the salamander had particular symbolic significance. Image Credit: http://www.thejewelleryeditor.com/2013/10/two-extraordinary-emeralds-are-set-to-draw-the-crowds-at-the-cheapside-hoard-exhibition-in-london/

Gemfields' 'Medusa' emerald from the quartz rock|Discovered in Zambia in 2008

Gemfields’ ‘Medusa’ emerald from the quartz rock|Discovered in Zambia in 2008. Image Credit: http://www.thejewelleryeditor.com/2013/10/two-extraordinary-emeralds-are-set-to-draw-the-crowds-at-the-cheapside-hoard-exhibition-in-london/

The exhibit runs at the Museum of London from 11 October 2013 – 27 April 2014 for a span six months.

To Learn More Click Here

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