If you are like me and born in the month of May, then you just might receive an emerald for your birthday. Or if you're prepared to wait, it is also the gemstone marking 20 and 35 years of marriage. I just might have to wait for that!
When it comes to finding the emerald of your desire, how do you know what to look for or where to go? These are questions I get asked all the time by my girlfriends and you, my dear readers. So, let me share with you my expertise as a gemologist and walk you through everything you need to know about buying an emerald.
An Emerald As An Investment
The first decision you need to make before settling on the ideal emerald is whether or not you want an investment piece or if you are following your heart's desire and looking for a design piece. One example I can give you is Elizabeth Taylor's emerald and diamond pendant brooch that fetched $6,578,500 in 2011 – a record-breaking $280,000 per carat. There's no doubt that this beautiful brooch is an investment piece, but it is also an exquisite design by Bulgari.
Next to a diamond, a one-carat emerald will look larger than a one-carat diamond because it weighs quite a bit less. But if you want the true beauty of an emerald to shine, then you're going to have to invest in at least 5 carats. Before you decide to buy, find out where the emerald was sourced and obtain the certificate. Also ask what kind of oiling and other clarity treatments were used in the finishing process. The most precious emeralds have an exceptional transparent quality and uniform colour.
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Remember: An Emerald Is Fragile
If it is an engagement ring you are after, an emerald is too fragile for everyday wear and tear. Emeralds are relatively hard stones – 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale – but they are brittle and if mistreated can chip, scratch and even break. It is important to bear this in mind when choosing the setting for your emerald. You will need something like a bezel setting that offers the utmost protection and supports the stone completely.
An Emerald's Colour And Value
The green colour of an emerald comes from three trace elements – chromium, vanadium and iron. The saturation of these elements will determine the hue of the emerald. However, there is no scale for the emerald’s beautiful shade of green and even the certificate, unlike that of a diamond, will not help you determine its quality and true value. That's why it is so important to buy from a reputable source (or your most-trusted relative!)
Take A Trip To Colombia, Zambia Or Brazil In Search Of The Perfect Emerald
Some of the earliest emerald mines were in Egypt dating as far back as 3500 BC and owned by Cleopatra, who had an insatiable passion for these gems. But the oldest emerald on record is 2.97 billion years.
Today, the top three locations in the world for emeralds are Zambia, Colombia and Brazil. Each location produces emeralds of a slightly different shade, from the warm and intense green colour of Colombian emeralds to the cooler, bluish green gems of Zambia. Colombia's three mines – Muzo, Chivor and Coscuez – are generally credited as producing the best emeralds in the world, though this is open for debate. Because it's becoming harder and harder to find Colombian emeralds, as the mines are practically all depleted, the best quality stones from this area will fetch about £100k per carat, compared to £70k per carat.