Gemstones

An Emerald Buying Guide

Emeralds are one of the most sought after Gems in the world and are a Precious Stone putting it in the small circle of peers alongside Diamonds, Rubies and Sapphires which command astronomical prices.

As one of the few gemstones that occurs in a single color, Green it does however have a variety of hues and degrees of opacity.

Occurring most traditionally in places such as Colombia, Brazil, Zambia and Afghanistan rarely newer deposits have been found in places such as Ethiopia while older sources that were long considered depleted or too expensive to mine are being revisited as Emerald prices have skyrocketed.

Also as an iconic gemstone with even non jewelry lovers knowing instantly what an Emerald looks like it has recaptured a market share from other gems as well as become a gem of choice for Unique Engagement Rings and Personalised Jewelry gifts.

As the birthstone of May and used to celebrate 55th anniversaries Emeralds are also being used in Custom Made Jewelry gifts, Push Presents for expecting mothers set to deliver in May, Emerald Cocktail Rings, Birthstone Jewelry for May babies or the better quality specimens being bought and kept as Loose Gemstones.

While more and more celebrities look to add Emeralds to their Bespoke Jewelry collections alongside their more traditional Diamond Cocktail Rings or Diamond Earrings and as the gem appears in popular culture and Hollywood Films such as Crazy Rich Asians it has only project this Green Gem’s position in the spotlight that much more.

COURTESY: Michelle Yeoh wearing the Emerald and Diamond Ring from the Crazy Rich Asians film at the 76th Golden Globe Awards in California, in the United States, on January 6. Picture: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images.

The following are a few points to note when buying Emeralds.

Color and Hue

Emeralds occur from the very Dark Blackish Green to a Pale smokey mint green with the entire gamut in between. The two main families of Green which is almost equally sought after by consumers and industry professionals alike is the yellowish Green Emerald which some feel tends to have more fire but is a slightly less popular hue versus the Bluish Green Emeralds that might be a little more dark at the heart of the stone and have more surface luster but not as much fire.

For those that want to add more than one Emerald to their jewelry collection we invite clients to Build their Own Engagement Ring with us featuring the Bluish Green Emeralds that might cost a little more but over a lifetime of wear will be worth the financial outlay. And then as a substitute to only Diamond Earrings, we welcome clients to use paler more subtle Emeralds or Yellowish Green Emeralds paired up with Diamonds to feature in everyday Emerald Earrings.

Clarity or Quality

Often used interchangeably and not always rightfully so, Clarity or Quality usually refers to the number of inclusions in a Gemstone.

Emeralds by nature are much more included than other precious stones and off the bat we welcome clients to have an open mind to the level of inclusions in an Emerald they should be willing to accept. The inclusions or jardins as they are referred to in the industry from the French word for gardens are also what some industry players say is what gives Emeralds their allure. Silk like wispy inclusions spread out throughout an Emerald giving it the appearance of a garden like landscape.

Even the most expensive Emeralds will have some inclusions and compared to Diamonds or Sapphires industry experts will tend to have a more gem specific clarity grading when referring to Emeralds which some might say is more relaxed. A “clean” Emerald might be referring to an Emerald which is only 70 to 80% clean to the naked eye.

However, sometimes to mask the inclusions clients will opt for darker colored Emeralds which tend to be less transparent and therefore the inclusions are harder to notice.

Darker Emeralds which are not opaque and are also clean or in short, tick all the boxes will be the most expensive Emeralds.

For Custom Made Rings or jewelry commissions which involve Designing your own Engagement Ring with Emeralds as the feature stone we encourage clients work with us to secure an Emerald Centre Stone first before embarking on the design as sometimes getting the perfect Emerald someone is after is not so straight forward.

However, with Gemrize’s extensive inventory of Emeralds in all shapes, sizes and qualities as well as access to new rough material from all major Emerald Mining locales it is highly likely we will have the right Emerald for you.

Treatments

Warranting an article on it’s own, treatments in Emeralds are a touchy topic with misinformation and industry prejudice dominating the landscape more so than fact and consumer oriented perspective.

Starting at the basics, Emeralds while ranging from 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness tend to be a little more brittle and prone to abrasions versus Sapphires and Rubies which also rank on a similar level of hardness.

However with the right setting and proper jewelry care, they make excellent dynastic jewels which you can pass on to the next generation and the one after that.

But because Emeralds tend to be brittle or as we say prone to drying out exposing fissures and cavities in the crystal they are often treated to fill these crevices with material to enhance the structural integrity of the Emerald while also enhancing the Emerald’s aesthetics.

The most common Emeralds will be treated with Oil or specifically Cedarwood Oil as it has a similar refractive index to Emeralds and therefore helps hide the cracks and crevices while adding to fire and luster. More notably is the use of Cedwarwood Oil in Rough Emeralds to make them more manageable to cut and polish which is not a straight forward task as Emeralds can and do shatter or explode when they are abrased on the Gemstone cutting wheel which is used to apply facets to the finished gems we are familiar with.

And while Cedarwood Oil is a widely used treatment in the Emerald industry both at the rough material level as well as the cut and polished front, many dealers and distributors have a limit to how much of this treatment they are willing to accept.

The grading range if we use the GRS Lab’s spectrum generally goes from None, Insignificant, Minor and finally Moderate.

While Oils will help fill in cracks and crevices the belief is that over time the Oils will leak out or dry up which will once again reveal cracks or compromise the structural integrity of the gem. However, as it is a zero sum game the price difference between varying levels of treatment is significant, with moderately treated gems fetching much cheaper prices than those not treated at all. Therefore for clients looking to secure an Emerald to make their own engagement ring that they intend to splash out on and which will likely be worn every day, we recommend opting for possibly a smaller gem but with lower levels of treatment to avoid needing to re-treat the Emerald in half a century or risk chipping it with heavy duty daily wearing.  While for clients looking just to have a push present for their wife or make a weekend Emerald Cocktail Ring we understand why a more commercially treated e.g. moderate level gem is acceptable to lower their cost or achieve a bigger carat weight.

In addition to oils there are hardened resins which are used to treat Emeralds. These are resins which at a higher temperature or pressure seep into the cracks and fissures in natural emeralds and then are either hardened with another substance or naturally harden once pressure and heat are removed. These have a longevity that some say will last up to a century and will also make the Emerald very appealing to look at as well as very affordable but for obvious reasons are looked down upon by Jewelry professionals who buy and trade Emeralds as collectibles. In other words these are to be used for commercial jewelry and for folks who want to get their hands on something sizeable and iconic but in a low price point with no intention to resell or hand down the gem as a collectible with a certificate, as many labs will not even certify such Emerald crystals.

Whether the hardened resins should be looked down upon or in some cases cast out by large swathes of the industry is a running debate. One way to look at is, the technology and knowhow to mitigate the natural weaknesses of what is a gorgeous gem exists but due to age old opinion the uptake has been looked down upon. In terms of full disclosure many of the hardened resins are even chemically enhanced to show up very easily when tested with even basic household equipment e.g. a UV Light, because the intention of the resin manufacturers was not to aid the Emerald supply chain to pass off inferior product as better than it is but on the contrary allow people to know which is which and give access to a market base that wants to wear and own Emeralds without having to be priced out of the market.

On the other hand you have industry players that say, treating a gem so invasively no longer has the allure of what a natural gem stands for and that is nature’s bounty in as close to the way it took millennia to form and years to extract and our desire to adorn ourselves with it in our daily lives with minimal human influence to the gem’s chemical characteristics.

All in all we say work with respectable parties when dealing with Emeralds that will explain to you with full disclosure the details of your sought after Emerald and the different considerations to factor in before buying your very own.

Emeralds as a gemstone of choice for Bespoke Jewelry

Whether you are looking for the perfect His and Hers Rings to be lightly sprinkled with a few select smaller Emeralds to symbolise your love story or have a single Emerald at the focal point of a Gemstone Engagement Ring or Custom Made Cocktail Ring we at Gemrize have done it all and can’t wait to work with you to deliver you your Personalised Custom Made Jewelry. Emeralds are in demand, are gorgeous and are a welcome addition to any Fine Jewelry Collection, take our quiz and get started on your Gemrize Jewelry adventure now.

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