Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Due to Michelle’s request yesterday, I’ll be discussing emeralds today and gold tomorrow.

I’ve always loved emeralds. They’re a member of the beryl family, which is the same family that the ruby and aquamarine (and the lesser-known pink morganite) come from.

It’s hard to find a quality emerald any more, because the mines that produced them are running out of top quality specimens. So, jewelers have learned to adapt. Instead of seeing the larger and clearer emeralds of yesteryear, you’re more likely to find an emerald ring made up of many smaller stones. Often the quality is poor, unless you’re willing to spend more to get more. Many emeralds I’ve seen are cloudy unless they’re treated, which was completely unacceptable 50 or more years ago.

Still, there are ways to enhance an emerald and make it appear more desirable than it really is. Some crooked gem merchants will do it, and pass the stone off as untouched. The better ones also enhance the stones usually, because emeralds today are so very imperfect. However, they disclose any treatments which have been made.

What are these treatments?

Nearly all natural emeralds are treated with oils or epoxy resins to stabilize the gem and enhance the color. For this reason, emerald owners are told never to clean their gems in ultra-sonic devices.

Sometimes the emerald is natural, but is an amalgam of pieced-together chunks which are difficult to detect when they are skillfully pieced together.

Many times the stones are irradiated to ‘clear them up’ a bit. To me this is the most acceptable process, as it is a permanent process that enhances the appearance.

Some jewelers go the route of synthetic stones. Although the way they are grown has changed, synthetic emeralds have been produced for many years. Certain of these stones even have inclusions that make them look natural. Some dealers may claim a synthetic is "real," and that is technically correct, since true synthetic gems have the same chemical characteristics as their natural counterparts, but a reputable jeweler will disclose that a gem is lab-grown.

If it looks exceptional, the chance is that it’s lab-grown. Either that, or the owners chose to invest a vast amount of money in jewelry (which is certainly possible).

Incidentally, great emeralds aren’t always clear. Often they are interlaced with fine markings that coinnoseurs call ‘jardiniere’, which is French for garden because it often looks like tree branches or ivy intertwined in the stone.

Because emeralds have always been popular, but not everyone was a jeweler, there have been times that even royalty was fooled. Some ancient Egyptian artifacts that were supposedly embedded with emeralds used either inferior emeralds or peridot. And in Thailand, one of the Emerald Buddhas is actually made out of green jade. However, there is another Emerald Buddha in Thailand that is the real thing and it’s gorgeous (as you can see). It’s 4 inches high and covered in gold and rubies. It resides in Chaing Mai.

The best emeralds come out of Columbia. Since a great deal of drug trade arises from Columbia, which is also known for terrorist organizations like Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), I wonder if emeralds are tied into organized crime in any way? I assume it’s probable, but can’t find any information on it.

And what about the lore surrounding emeralds? In Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton (one of my favorite gothic novels) the heroine is given an emerald as an engagement ring, which is seen as a portent of doom. But this is the only time I found anyone suggesting that emeralds bring ‘bad luck’.

And the mystical properties? This green beryl is said to bring security in love. It supposedly allows access to the mystery we hold deepest in our hearts, thereby healing and activating our highest heart’s desire. It is believed by some to assist in the healing of eyesight and speech impediments. Those who believe in the mystical properties of stones say that emeralds have a tranquilizing effect on the heart and mind, inspiring calm, clear assurance.

For additional information, you might be interested in reading this and this.


michelle said...

I have an emerald ring and a ruby. We will have to check them out. Interesting just how often we get ripped off. I don't care, I still like my emerald. Thanks for the post. I am enjoying learning about the jewlery we love our other halfs buy us.

United We Lay said...

Emeralds are easy to find in Colombia, and inexpensive, too. The next time I go down I'll let you know and we can work out an arrangement so I can bring some beautiful peices for you.

United We Lay said...

Oh, husband pet peeve (he's from Colombia) - the country is spelled Colombia, with an O, not like the explorer.

United We Lay said...

Sorry about the multiple comments - Colombia's biggest exports to the states are coffee and roses, but emeralds are up there. The Emerald trade isn't profitable for trafficking purposes because the lab emeralds are less expensive and in higher demand because they're clearer, so they're not connected to the drug trade.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Polanco, thanks so much for the contributions and the info! And Michelle and I are DEFINATELY going to talk to you about getting some emeralds. Yum!

The Lazy Iguana said...

The sunken Spanish treasure shit Atocha had a large number of Colombian emeralds on board. The captian was smuggling them because they do not show up on the ship's manifest.

Anyway, I have seen some of these contraband stones - and they are awesome. So green!

All hands were lost on the Atocha, except for one sailor. The lone survivor was forced up the ship's main mast (at gunpoint) and lashed himself to the crows nest to ride out the storm (during bad weather, one guy was always put in the crows nest to stand watch. It was a dangerous place to be, and more often than not this guy would be injured or killed).

When the ship sunk, the mast was above the water and the lone sailor forced up the mast at gunpoint was the only one to survive.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy Iguana, WOW. What a fascinating story! Know any where we could go to get more info on that? What was it like to see those emeralds?

Liquidplastic said...

Saurkraut you are a wonder. There is so much to learn about stones I will probably never own, but love to know about. I don't like diamonds, but I do love emeralds. They are so beautiful. My great grandmother, who was a midwife, was given a very beautiful emerald ring by the woman she worked for. When the woman died, as the story goes, her children tried to force her to give it back, but they didn’t prevail. I only saw it twice, and it was beautiful. I haven't seen it in years, but the next time I go to the family reunion I am going to enquire about it so I can see if it’s the real thing. Thanks for education.

Jamie Dawn said...

My daughter's birthstone is emerald. Emeralds are gorgeous.

michelle said...

I love emeralds! Guess what MY birthday is in April, it is the dreaded diamond.

Senor Caiman said...

I love emeralds too. My Aunt left me a Ducweigh Emerald. I wear colored contacts that are emerald in color, green is mesmorizing.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

When my youngest daughter went off to college we bought her an emerald tennis bracelet. It was stolen by her room mate and caused a great deal of Hooo haa. (She did eventually get it back. It was lovely and at that time surprisingly inexpensive (but not cheap, not by a heck of a lot.)

Three Score and Ten or more said...

I should have mentioned that, in Turkey, in one of the old castles, (that has a famous name and about which a movie was made, but my frozen old brain won't remember it), they have a ten or twelve inch basket, about four inches deep, that is full of emeralds, some of them almost the size of eggs. The guards at the museum walk around with submachines guns in their hands.

actonbell said...

Emeralds are indeed beautiful! It seems that the color green is often taken as a sign of peace and tranquility. Nice report--thank you!

Saur♥Kraut said...

LP, you can always find a cheap emerald (or an imitation) so don't cut yourself out just yet! Glad you enjoyed it. I hope this post didn't come out as a lecture, but I love talking about things that I enjoy.

JD, now you can tell her all about them! ;o)

Michelle, *ahem* you mean CZ or white topaz. *g* Soon I'll do a post on birthstones and why they were chosen. A couple different cultures have different birthstone lists, too. It's actually very interesting.

Mr Gator, you are a goofball. ;o) But since gators usually have yellow eyes, I guess I'd wear green contacts, too.

3Score & 10 how awful for your daughter. Good thing she got it back! I remember losing a bracelet once, and the panic I felt. I'd love to see those 'eggs'!

Acton Bell, green's my favorite color, so I'd agree with you.

Live, Love, Laugh said...

wow I didn't know all this stuff. Guess I just figured an emerald has always been and it just came to be. duh!!!

Lucy Stern said...

Thanks for all your study...I learned a thing or two today..I have a small emerald ring I bought about 25 years ago, I think I'll go take a better look at it.

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

Love shiny rocks!I have some raw emeralds. Will have to have them appraised now...LOL!

Three Score and Ten or more said...

If I can find my "Turkey" pictures, after Christmas, I will post a picture of the emeralds. A bit mind boggling. Oh? Just to prove that the brain is only half dead, The castle with the Museum is called Topkapi, and the Brits made a movie about some thieves who went after the emeralds, among other things.

The Zombieslayer said...

Thanks Saurkraut. I never knew any of that about emeralds. I've always admired emeralds. Never owned one, but wanted to.

Columbia, huh? Dang, of all countries, why Columbia? Very unsafe for Americans (actually unsafe for anyone with money, regardless of nationality).

Some Random Girl said...

YOu are such an interesting woman! Whenever I pop in for a visit I am always fascinated by what you have to write. I hope my blog comes across as fascinating as yours one day!