It is difficult to say exactly who was the first person to fall in love with this luscious green gemstone. The Egyptians were the first to document their love affair with this wonderful gem as Clepatra and Pharaohs before her dating back to 3500 BC conducted mining operations seeking this gem. Cleopatra was known for her passion for emeralds and she is pictured as being adorned by green gemstones in several tomb drawings. The Greek word smaragdus, green, is the origin of the word emerald. The soothing and calming nature of emeralds was described in an early Roman text, Natural History, by Pliny the Elder.
Emeralds are found in many countries throughout the world. The most beautiful emeralds come from Colombia’s Muzo mining region. One of the most famous mines, the Sierra Pelada, or shaven mountain, turned a hill into a mine several hundred meters deep. The Muzo region in Colombia yields rich green colors with depth and scintillation and traditional three phase inclusions. Three phase inclusions are made of water, gas and a daughter mineral. This is to say that Colombian emeralds routinely present an inclusion which is a cavity inside the emerald in which gas, fluid and a solid are found together. These inclusions are invisible to the naked eye and require microscopic examination to reveal them.
Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald pendant sold for $6,578,000 or $280,000 per carat setting a record for an emerald in 2011. Since then, the Rockefeller emerald at 18.04 carats fetched a whopping $5,500,000 from Harry Winston at $305,000 per carat. Both of these fantastic jewels were of Colombian origins and both had that seductive green color to them.
Beautiful emeralds also come from Africa, specifically the Zambian region. Zambian emeralds present a different color signature than Colombian emeralds and are more in the blue-green color family. Colombian emeralds display a more true green color with slight hints of yellow. Nonetheless, Zambian emeralds can also be quite beautiful and valuable with per carat prices ranging up to $25,000 per carat for very fine material.
We at Regent Jewelers are passionate about emeralds. Regent Jewelers has several large Colombian Muzo emeralds with grading reports from the American Gemological Laboratory (AGL) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) stating the emeralds are natural and without treatment. The nature of beryl, the base mineral of emeralds, is such that small cavities are found throughout most emerald’s surface. These cavities detract from the beauty and translucency of emeralds. Early treatment of emeralds included submerging emeralds in castor oil and applying pressure to the solution thus forcing the oil to penetrate the gemstone and improve its overall appearance. This treatment is referred to as traditional oil and is among the most common of emerald treatments. Asides from oil, polymers and other substances have been used to treat emeralds. When a laboratory finds these they call them modern treatments. The most desirable emeralds are untreated Colombian emeralds from the Muzo region. Regent Jewelers has several of these available for purchase.