May has arrived and that means it’s time to celebrate the emerald. You may not know this but at its best an emerald can be more expensive than the widely sought diamond. Emeralds and diamonds are a classic combination. Mined all over the world but you’ll hit the jackpot deep in the mines of Colombia. The diverse geological environment of South America produces 50% of the worlds yield.
Just like aquamarine the emerald is made from a substance called beryl. Quantities of chromium take responsibility for the brilliant green colour. The word originates from the Greek word ‘Smargados’. This literally translates into ‘green gem’.
Cleopatra’s love for the green gem was well documented. When worn it was said to drive away evil spirits. If you held it in your mouth it was believed to be a cure for dysentery. I’m not sure I’d want to waste the beauty of an emerald by swallowing it but ingestion was thought to be a cure for the Black Death.
To find a flawless emerald is rare. This makes it one of the most precious of all the gemstones. This rarity lends itself to the high price tag. Due to the expense there were many attempts to create synthetic emeralds. In 1935 Carroll Chatham succeeded and grew the first 1-carat Chatham emerald. If you wish to see this innovation, it’s currently on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.
Emeralds are delicate. They can be easily scratched and are susceptible to chipping and cracking. They are often treated by filling the gem with oil to fill in the cracks and reduce the risk of a fracture. In jewellery making they tend to be surrounded by tougher stones as protection. A well favoured combination is emerald with diamonds. This can make a piece more expensive to set due to the risk involved. As a general rule if the water temperature is too hot for your hand it’s too hot for your emerald. Always pat it dry to keep it safe.
As well as being the birthstone of May, if you are a fan of tradition you can present an emerald to your loved one as your 55th wedding anniversary gift. When the stone is cut and polished it has a glass like lustre. The deep green colour will keep this historical treasure as popular today as it has been historically. Take good care of this delicate jewel and you’ll have something of beauty forever.
A perfect example of emeralds and diamonds combined can be found in our brilliant emerald halo ring. Just one of many designs available.