The synonyms of the word “Emerald” can be found in different ancient languages. There are words “zumurrud” in Persian,“izmaragd” or “smaragd” in Old Russian and “smaragdos”, meaning “green gem”, in Greek. The emerald is a gemstone from the beryl family.
The emerald is one of the most precious gemstones. It was known since the ancient times. Shades of a color can help to reveal the origin of an emerald. For example, the Colombian emeralds have a bluish shade and a yellow color shade is the distinctive feature of the emeralds from Ural, Brazil and Madagascar.
Emeralds often have inclusions of liquid or gas bubbles and other minerals. Small inclusions are not considered to be significant defects, because they testifythe natural origin of a stone.
The pour toughness is the characteristic feature of the stone. It is a result of its low hardness and presence of fissures.That is why emeralds easy split while pressing and heating.
To avoid splitting of faceted emeralds, the specific variety of the step cutwas designed. It is calledthe “emerald” cut. Sometimes emeralds are cut the same way as diamonds. Stones with low clarity are cut as cabochons. Large emeralds might be engraved.
The interesting fact is that flawless and well saturated emeralds might be more expensive than diamonds of the same size.
Emeralds were highly appreciated in the ancient world. More than 3.5 thousand years B.C. emeralds were mined in the legendary Queen Cleopatra’s Mines, which were located in a desert region of the Upper Egypt. Queen Cleopatra’s Mines had been in production for three thousand years.
In Ancient India emeralds were known earlier than 1.5 thousand years B.C.
Emeralds became widely available for jewelers only at the end of the XV century, when the stolen treasures of Aztec were brought to Europeafter the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards.
In Egypt the emerald was honored as the stone of Isis, the goodness of the fertility and domestic happiness. It was believed that the emerald had numerous healing and magic properties. The Babylon astrologists associated the emerald with Cancer, Byzantine and Greek regarded it as the stone for Taurus. In Russian legends the emerald was considered to be the stone of wisdom, equanimity and hope. In the middle ages the emerald was considered to be a magical stone.There is a delicate gold statuette of St. George slaying the emerald set dragon in the Munich Residence Museum.
In 1833 in Russia thirty kilometers to the north from Yekaterinburg the emerald mines of the Ural were opened. Since then till 1917 about 20tons of raw stones for jewelry were produced there.
One of the first finds in Ural was the cluster of emerald, weighing 2226 g. Its length is 18.5 sm. Today this stone is exhibited in the Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow. The unique transparent emerald crystal called “Russian Giant” was also found in Ural. The stone sizes are 11.5 sm and 6 sm, and its weight is 2800 karat. It belongs to the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The Columbian emeralds are the most popular in the world. In spite of a big number of emerald deposits all over the world Columbia leads the world in raw emerald output and stone quality. Emeralds had been mined here by Incas, but later the deposit was deserted. It was discovered by Spaniards in XVII century. The color of the Columbian emeralds is considered to be the best in the world.
First Brazil emeralds were found in 1913. But the serious “emerald boom” began in 1963, when the four new emerald deposits were discovered. After the start of the Santa Terezinha deposit developing in 1981 Brazil became one of the world's largest producers of emeralds. The emeralds from Brazil are generally yellow-green and their color is lighter than the color of the Columbian stones, but their clarity is higher.
There are a lot of large emeralds as famous as the legendary diamonds and rubies. The finest emeralds, which weight hundreds of carats, can be seen in the National Museum of Natural History in London in the American Museum of Natural History in New York and in the Diamond Fund of Russia. Among the other jewelry of the Vienna treasury there is a 12 sm bottle for perfume carved from a single emerald crystal weighing 2205 carat.
Another famous stone is the carved Mogul Mughal Emerald, which has a form of a rectangular tablet. This Columbian emerald weights 217.8 carat and its sides are 3.5 sm and 1 sm long. It belongs to a private collector. The front side of the stone is engraved with foliate decoration and there is an inscription of Shi'a invocations and the date of the year 1695 on the emerald back side.
Emerald jewelry is very popular in Russian market. Items made of yellow gold with diamonds and emeralds are especially good sellers.