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Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl, colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Beryl has a hardness of 7.5 - 8 on the 10 point Mohs scale of hardness. Most emeralds are highly included, so the brittleness (resistance to breakage) is classified as generally poor.
The lively luminosity of its colour makes the emerald a unique gemstone. However, really good quality is fairly rare, with inclusions often marring the evenness of the colour. Fine inclusions, however, do not by any means diminish the high regard in which it is held. On the contrary: even with inclusions, an emerald in a deep, lively green still has a much higher value than an almost flawless emerald whose colour is paler.
The name emerald comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' via the Old French 'esmeralde', and really just means 'green gemstone'. Innumerable fantastic stories have grown up around this magnificent gem. The Incas and Aztecs of South America, where the best emeralds are still found today, regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone. However, probably the oldest known finds were once made near the Red Sea in Egypt. These gemstone mines, already exploited by Egyptian pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C. and later referred to as 'Cleopatra's Mines', had already been exhausted by the time they were rediscovered in the early 19th century.
Emerald gemstones come in many shades of green and bluish green. There is a wide spectrum of clarity, dependent on the inclusions and fractures in the crystal. Today, many emerald gems are enhanced with colourless oils or resins. This is a general trade practice, but it does have the consequence that these green treasures react very sensitively to inappropriate treatment. For example, they cannot be cleaned in an ultrasonic bath. The substances that may have been used by the cutter during his work, or applied subsequently, seal the fine pores in the surface of the gem. Removing them will end up giving the stone a matt appearance. For this reason, emerald rings should always be taken off before the wearer puts his or her hands in water containing cleansing agent.
Colombian Emeralds are generally the most prized due to their transparency and fire. Some of the rarest emeralds come from three main emerald mining areas in Colombia: Muzo, Coscuez, and Chivor. Fine emeralds are also found in other countries, such as Zambia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Russia.
The value of an Emerald gem depends on cut, colour, clarity, and carat. The characteristics of Colombian emeralds set the highest standards of quality.
The emerald gem stone is regarded as the traditional birthstone for May, and for commemorating the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries as well as the traditional gemstone for the astrological signs of Taurus and Cancer.
The magnificent green of the emerald gemstone is a colour which conveys harmony, love of Nature and elemental joie de vivre. The human eye can never see enough of this unique colour. Green is perceived as fresh and vivid, never as monotonous. And in view of the fact that this colour always changes somewhat between the bright light of day and the artificial light of a lamp, emerald green retains its lively vigour in all its nuances.
Emeralds from Zimbabwe are among the oldest gemstones anywhere in the world. They were already growing 2600 million years ago, whilst some specimens from Pakistan, for example, are a mere 9 million years old.
The magic of The emerald stone is that they
Emeralds healing functions: