For those interested in learning more about the beautiful birthstone for May or considering investing in a piece for a 20th or 35th anniversary gift, below are a few facts that we bet you didn’t know about Emerald:
- Emeralds are not always ‘emerald green’
It might sound a little odd given their name, but Emeralds can vary quite a bit in colour! The ‘Forty shades of green’ in the famous Johnny Cash song is actually a little closer to reality. Emeralds range in colour from deep green to pale green hues. The deep green gems are the most prized and expensive emeralds. The lovely variety of colour is due to the exact amount of trace elements, Chromium, Vanadium and Iron, in the stone.
- For emerald the cut is the key
The colour we see in jewellery also depends on the cut. A skilled gemologist can give a paler stone a darker appearance with a deep cut and fewer facets (flat surfaces on the stone). Or a darker stone can be made to appear lighter with a shallow cut and more facets. Given all that, it is not so surprising that this gem has a specific cut named after it, “the emerald cut.” Many fine emeralds are prepared in this iconic style.
- Emeralds are rarer and often more expensive than diamonds
When many people think of rare or expensive gemstones their first thought is of diamonds. But it is emerald that are among the rarest of all gemstones and so often have a price tag to match. They are part of a family of gems called beryl and are mined all over the world including Central and South America and Africa. But even in established emerald mines the availability of high-quality or large gems is limited.
- Emeralds are the go to gem for the Royal Set
Perhaps it is this rarity that has lead not just the Irish to prize beautiful emerald. Cleopatra, reportedly loved this stone and to guarantee herself high quality gems, reportedly took ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt! The British Crown jewels are also adorned with spectacular emeralds. And of course Elizabeth Taylor, queen of the silver screen, famously cherished beautiful emerald jewellery. Her stunning emerald pendant sold for an eye-watering $6.5 million in 2011.
- Emeralds may give you more bang for your buck than diamond
Despite their rarity, if you are looking to maximise the size of a stone for your budget then emeralds could be an option to explore. The carat of a gemstone is calculated using its weight. Carat for carat, emerald comes out on top when compared to diamond. A 1 carat emerald will be a larger stone than a 1 carat diamond as diamond is more dense than emerald. Very large emeralds like those in the British crown jewels can be hundreds of carats. More typical and affordable sizes for jewellery range from 1 mm to 5 mm for stones used in decoration (0.02 to 0.50 carat). Larger emeralds of 1 to 5 carats are typically reserved for centre stones in marquee pieces of jewellery.
- Unlike diamond, emeralds are not all about clarity
For diamond, clarity is a big driver in price of an individual stone. But inclusions in emerald are often viewed as desirable features. They can form lovely patterns, referred to in the trade as the emerald’s jardin, or garden. They are so unique that they can actually increase value. Inclusions in emerald can also be assessed with the naked eye rather than under magnification like diamond, so no specialist equipment is required to assess a stone.
- Emeralds have a long history
Perhaps it comes back to their stunning green colour but emeralds have been mined for over 4000 years and are associated with an impressive list of mystical powers and uses! They were considered a symbol of eternal youth by the ancient Egyptians who liked to be buried with them! Romans thought gazing into them was useful to relieve stress and eye strain. And green was also the colour for Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Ancient legends also claim that placing an emerald under the tongue would reveal truth, allow a person to foresee the future and protect against evil spells! We wouldn’t recommend this particular practice!