Emeralds are a form of beryl found in areas of the world like Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The beryl family includes other well known gemstones like aquamarine and heliodor. In the northern United States they can be found in North Carolina. Out of the emeralds mined the most prized are mined in Colombia, from three mines called Chivor, Coscuez, and Muzo. Trapiche emeralds, being the rarest of emeralds, have a star or radial pattern within them. The origin of the name derives from the French word “Esmeralde,” that means Green Gemstone.
Dating back as far as 3000+BC, Egyptians, Aztecs, Mayans, Indians, Indonesians, Brazilians, Spanish, and French nobles have all been adorned with emeralds. According to carbon dating, some emeralds from Zimbabwe have existed since as early as 2.6 billion years ago. While this seems very old, most emeralds are much younger than that though. While most gems with no flaws or inclusions are seen as more prized, depth of color in an emerald is considered a more important denominator of value and worth. A luscious green emerald with inclusions would be prized more then a pale green gem without inclusions, which is the opposite of how most other crystals would be valued.
In ancient Egypt, emeralds were sought after greatly. There are myths that Thoth; god of wisdom gave emeralds to the world. As well as Thoth, an Egyptian magician named Hermes Trismegistos created a tablet of emerald with all the secrets of alchemy and magic. In these modern days, emeralds are associated with May and the astrological sign of Taurus. Money and luck are both modern associations. Traditionally, emeralds are the 55th anniversary gift. In holistic or religious uses, the stone is said to help with eye problems, childbirth, and even menopause. Lovers are said to wear emeralds to keep their significant other faithful, or to help mend unfaithfulness. In the Book of Revelations, the throne of God is rumored to be made of pure emeralds, and it is one of the stones in the breastplate of the High Priest.
Most of the current day commercial emeralds are synthetic or lab grown. Synthetic emeralds are grown in a process that takes about seven months to complete. After the gem is grown, they are injected with a dye that makes them appear green, but if you look at them closely under an iridescent light, they change color. A true stone will cost a lot of money and (generally) does not have many carats to it, simply because fine emeralds are so rare.
The New York Museum of Natural History has an emerald cup, which is said to weigh 632 carats or the equivalent of 127 grams. The Bank of Bogota in Colombia, features five emerald crystals of 220 and 1796 carats. Probably the most famous emerald is the Mogul Emerald, which weighs 217.80 carats or 43.56 grams, and is 10cm tall. It was sold in London for over 2 million dollars on September 28th, 2001.
Resistant to many scratches, though brittle, cutting emeralds for gemstone purposes can be difficult, due to many inclusions and the high value of the raw stone itself. This caused gem cutters to create, over time, what is called the “Emerald Cut.” The Emerald Cut is the usual method of cutting emeralds, and most gemstone emeralds today are cut using this method. The Emerald Cut produces either a rectangular or square cutting, which helps in accentuating the gems’ green color.
Today, good quality emeralds are so valued that many fine specimens are even higher priced than diamonds! Thus the emerald continues to bejewel mankind in perpetuity, holding us spellbound to its timeless green charm.
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