Emerald: The Green Beryl

Emeralds have been a part of human culture since before we've even began keeping records. Not a lot of people know that Emeralds are a variety of the Beryl group. Have you heard of Aquamarine or Morganite? How about the lesser known gems, Maxixe or Goshenite? All of these gemstones are part of the Beryl family.

Beryl is a single mineral with many varieties that are distinguished by their colours. It is actually the trace impurities present in the crystals that give them their unique colours and characteristics. Chromium and Vanadium give Emerald its deep green colour, iron gives Aquamarine its blue colour, manganese for Morganite and so on. Of all the varieties it is that vibrant green that makes Emerald the favourite and most valuable Beryl. The more desirable the colour, the higher the price tag. 

Fun fact: pale, light green varieties are not recognized as Emerald at all but called Green Beryl instead. 

Most gemstones are graded and evaluated using a particular set of criteria: Carat, Cut, Colour and Clarity. However, this is not always the case with Emeralds. Emeralds can be very transparent and gemmy, resulting in a highly valuable gem, they can also be very included to opaque, a more common and less valuable variety. In any case, Emeralds typically get a pass when it comes to clarity and are admired for their unique inclusions; the industry refers to these inclusions as jardin which is the french term for "garden". Unlike most valuable gemstones, Emeralds are almost certain to have inclusions and are appreciated for their flaws. 

Although these flaws certainly give Emeralds their charm, it does require a certain level of care and maintenance. Emeralds are given a hardness rating of 7.5 to 8 on the mohs scale of hardness. This makes them some of the most durable gems on the market and suitable for jewellery. However, the number and severity of inclusions in an Emerald can also affect their durability and extra care should be taken. It is very common and accepted for Emeralds to be oil treated- typically with a natural cedar oil. This is pressurized into the fissures and inclusions, enhancing the colour, improves the clarity and keeps the stone from drying out and becoming brittle. 

Here are some steps to take care of your Emerald: 

1. Like most jewellery, never wear your Emerald jewellery during physical activity or when you are swimming or showering (no saunas either).
2. Always store your Emerald jewellery properly and away from other jewellery to ensure it does not get scratched or damaged. 
3. Never use over-the-counter cleaning products, chemicals or abrasives to clean your Emeralds. It is best practice to use lukewarm, soapy water and a soft toothbrush to gently clean your Emerald jewellery. Never use hot water, steam or submerge it in an ultrasonic. 
4. Like all jewellery, occasionally bring it to your local jeweller to professionally clean and tighten settings. 
We hope you enjoyed this little crash course on Emeralds! 

 


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