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Emerald: History, Meanings and More

Emerald stone informationWhen you hear the word “gemstone,” what’s one of the first jewels that pops into your mind? If the answer was emerald, we wouldn’t be surprised! Emerald stones are some of the world’s most famous jewels of all time. These glittering green gems make gorgeous jewelry pieces and have been worn by everyone from Cleopatra to Angelina Jolie.

Meanwhile, people from all walks of life turn to emeralds for their spiritual and healing powers. Whether you’re seeking to manifest your dream life or alleviate ailments, emeralds can help you accomplish both. But how? And what other fantastic qualities do emeralds possess?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the elegant emerald’s spectacular specifications and properties. A jewel this extraordinary is worth every bit of its legacy! 

What is an Emerald Stone?

Emerald is a type of mineral called beryl, inarguably the most well-known of its kind. Other beryl gems include aquamarine, goshenite, morganite, heliodor, and red beryl.

Emerald is also a proud member of the cardinal gems, an elite class of traditionally precious stones. Other cardinal gems include diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and amethysts. It’s no surprise that emeralds belong to such a prestigious group of jewels!

Emerald stones make for dazzling rings, brooches, and pendants. For those approaching their 20th, 35th, or 55th anniversaries, consider celebrating your love with the “love gemstone” itself. 

If your birthday falls in May, you’re in luck – you can proudly say that the emerald stone is your May birthstone! Emeralds also hail under the Zodiac sign Cancer. With their sensitivity and intuition, Cancers are an excellent match for emerald’s gentle and kind aura.

Loose Emerald Gemstone

Emerald Stone Specifications and Characteristics

As a beryl mineral, emerald is a chemical compound called beryllium aluminum silicate. This glowing green gem scores a respectable 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. If tough and dependable are what you want from your gemstones, emerald is your jewel!

  • Color: green, yellow-green, bluish-green

  • Crystal structure: hexagonal

  • Luster: vitreous

  • Transparency: transparent to opaque

  • Refractive index: 1.569-1.602

  • Density: 2.76

  • Cleavage: indistinct

So, what makes emerald such a popular pick for jewelry? What colors and shapes are ideal? It’s time to explore emerald’s unique gemstone properties to demonstrate why this jewel is so regal and popular.

Emerald Gemstone Properties

Shopping for high-quality emerald stones can be pretty stressful. Luckily, we’ve outlined a few gemstone factors that’ll help you find the perfect emerald ring or pendant. These factors are the four Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. 

Cut

When shopping for gemstones, the jewels you see have likely been chiseled from raw crystal form. 

Emeralds, in particular, are often fashioned into uniformly faceted shapes to preserve color, brilliance, and gemstone material. The most famous example is the aptly-named emerald cut, which lets emeralds shine in all their glory.

Aside from the emerald cut, other common emerald stone shapes include oval, rectangular, cushion, and cabochon. Of course, emeralds are sure to enchant anyone with their radiant beauty, no matter their shape.

Loose emerald cabochon stones

Color

Emeralds owe their lush green colors to traces of chromium, vanadium, or a combination of both. Their primary hues are green, although many emerald gemstones carry hints of yellow and blue as well.

The finest quality emeralds have deep saturation and vivid colors. In fact, emeralds must be medium to dark-toned to make the cut as an official “emerald.” Otherwise, they’re categorized as regular green beryls.

The most desirable emerald gemstones are bluish-green with medium-dark tones and heavy saturation. If you’re unsure about what that specifically looks like, don’t be afraid to ask a jewelry retailer or gem seller!

We know how vital emerald color is, but what role does clarity play in emerald buying?

Clarity

Emeralds grow deep inside the Earth’s crust for millions of years under intense conditions. It’s no surprise that gas, dust, and other particles get trapped inside crystals during that long period. These particles are called inclusions and can impact a gemstone’s appearance and structure.

Most emeralds have visible inclusions and surface-breaking fissures. A common inclusion found in emeralds is jardin, which means “garden” in Spanish. These inclusions imbue emeralds with a beautifully mossy, garden-like depth. In this case, inclusions are good!

While most gemstones with visible inclusions are lower in value, emeralds are priceless no matter what because of their rarity. Besides, the chances of finding “eye-clean” or inclusion-free emeralds are incredibly slim. Inclusions, on the other hand, add depth and beauty to the already breathtaking emerald.

Luckily, emeralds come in all weights and sizes.

Carat Weight

While many gemstones rarely exceed two or three carats in weight, emeralds can grow to be rather large and heavy. One of the largest emeralds in the world weighs a jaw-dropping 1.7 million carats!

In terms of pricing, larger emerald stones typically have higher prices. If you’re interested in buying jewelry with emerald center stones, consider looking at gems that weigh one to five carats.

Are there any other essential factors to consider when buying emeralds? It’s wise to get savvy on gemstone treatments, as they’re pretty common in the gem trade.

Loose Emerald Stones

Emerald Treatments

Emerald treatments are predominantly safe, industry-standard procedures that enhance a gemstone’s color and clarity. 

In other words: treated emeralds are the ultimate jewels with superior beauty and price. Without treatments, most emeralds can look dull and lack that pizazz we crave in jewelry gems.

Nearly all emeralds level up through some form of treatment. The most standard type of treatment is oiling, aka submerging emeralds in colorless oil or resin. This process saturates emeralds with that classic green color we all know and love. 

Some oil treatments use green oils and hardened resin. These result in beautifully colorful jewels. However, they can require special care and maintenance. 

While you’re shopping for emeralds online, be wary of synthetics, as they’re growing more and more popular.

Synthetic Emeralds

Some emeralds are neither natural nor treated; they’re lab-grown. Synthetic emeralds were first invented in 1935 by American chemist Carroll Chatham. 

These artificial gems have the same chemical makeup and crystal structure as natural emeralds, but they don’t experience millions of years growing under immense heat and pressure.

Synthetic emeralds tend to be more expensive than other types of manufactured gems simply because the processes take more time, energy, and resources. However, they offer a budget-friendly alternative to those shopping for inexpensive gemstones that mimic the quality and brilliance of natural gems.

Of course, emeralds have been around for much longer than the 20th century. Let’s travel back in time to see how emerald stones have thrived across many eras.

Emerald Stone History

Emerald originates its name from the Greek word smaragdus, which means “green.” 

Emeralds, however, are far older than ancient Greece. Did you know that the oldest emerald stones hail from South Africa and are 2.97 billion years old? That’s quite a hike back in time, right? These jewels are practically immortal!

As human civilization evolved, the legacy of the noble emerald spread far and wide. Emeralds have been mined from Egypt since at least 330 BC. During this period, one of our favorite historical figures adorned herself in green emeralds. 

Queen Cleopatra was famous for her famous emerald collection and even held exclusive rights to first pick of the lot for all emerald mines under her reign. Talk about power (and fashion!)

A little further on in history, emerald industrial mining flourished under the Roman and Byzantine empires. In the 14th century, emeralds became incredibly popular in India and Austria.

What were emeralds used for in ancient times? Ancient people believed that emeralds released prophetic powers when placed under the tongue. As such, people used emerald talismans to reveal truth, promote fidelity, and provide protection against evil sorcery. 

So, with such a vibrant history, where does emerald stone come from originally? 

Raw Emerald Rough Specimen

Emerald Stone Origins and Sources

Emeralds are formed in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks deep within the Earth’s crust over millions of years. You may be wondering: why is emerald so rare? Well, it’s unusual for both beryllium and chromium or vanadium to form in the same area. Without a combination of these elements, emeralds simply can’t exist.

It’s the striking fusion of these elements that gifts us gorgeous emerald stones!

Quite a phenomenal process, right? But where does it happen, and where are emeralds found? Colombia is the world’s largest emerald supplier, sourcing about 50-95% of the world’s supply. Any guesses as to why? 

If you guessed it’s because Colombian emeralds have the highest quality — with pure green shades that are out of this world — you’re right!

Other emerald mines are located in Brazil, Zambia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Canada, Russia, and the United States.

Moving onto emerald uses and benefits: what do emeralds symbolize? As we segue into the stone’s holistic properties, we’ll uncover emerald stone benefits along the way.

Emerald Stone Meaning

Emeralds aren’t just gorgeous green gemstones that will take your breath away: they possess holistic qualities that can help you thrive in all areas of life.

How? For one, emeralds encourage love and loyalty and help you strengthen your friendships and romantic relationships. Who knew those gorgeous green gems you love could also be a friendship booster?

And that’s not all: emeralds symbolize self-growth and empowerment, too. These sparkling jewels can enhance your mental clarity and open your inner eye to wisdom and foresight.

If it’s riches you seek: emeralds don’t just manifest material wealth. They can help you become rich in spiritual gifts and life experiences!

What is emerald good for when it comes to its spiritual and healing powers? Emerald meanings go way beyond the emotional and into the spiritual. Let’s tap into those good vibes!

Raw emerald healing crystals

Emerald Spiritual and Healing Properties

Emeralds have been used as powerful healing crystals for thousands of years. When you place an emerald on your chest, you’re channeling its healing energy right into the heart chakra.

Chakras are sacred energy centers that run along seven parts of the spine to revitalize your physical and spiritual wellbeing. The heart chakra, in particular, is found in your chest and governs your relationships with yourself and others.

When this chakra is blocked, you may experience turmoil in your relationships. Who has time for that? Grab emeralds to open the heart chakra and free yourself to better understand and accept those around you.

Emeralds can encourage us to take excellent care of ourselves, so you’ll want to take care of them in return!

Emerald Stone Care and Maintenance

Taking care of your emerald gemstone is super simple and doesn’t require extra money or resources. 

Before you bathe your emeralds in a bath of cleaners, avoid ultrasonic cleaners and any boiling or steaming methods. All you need is a bowl, soft brush, and mild detergent to get your jewels squeaky clean. 

  • Gently lather and scrub your emeralds with mild, scent-free soap.

  • Rinse your jewelry with warm water and gingerly pat them dry with a soft microfiber towel.

And voila, your gemstone is sparkling like brand-new again! Be sure to only wash as needed, as cleaning your emerald too frequently can erode its gorgeous sparkle. 

While emerald care and maintenance may be dirt-cheap, you may be wondering about emerald prices in general. Luckily, we’ve handled that portion of research for you as well. After all, you should know what to expect to pay when shopping for gemstones, right? Right.

Colombian Emerald Stone Ring

Emerald Stone Prices and Value

Are emeralds expensive? Well, that depends on the quality and size of the gem. Ultimately, it depends on the gemstone quality and origins. 

As you browse for emeralds online, you’ll notice that emerald stone prices range anywhere from $30 to $9.8k per carat at retail value. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Commercial-grade: $30-525 per carat

  • Good: $525-1.125k per carat

  • Fine: $1.125k-2.9k per carat

  • Extra fine: $2.9k-9.8k+ per carat

As you can see, emeralds are versatile jewels all around; there’s even a price point for everyone! Like we mentioned before, Colombian emeralds fetch the highest prices. Larger emeralds that are medium to dark green and have intense saturation are highly valuable as well.

Overall, emerald stones can accommodate many different budgets, but because they’re a precious gem, they are an investment you’ll cherish lifelong. Plus, you can pass them down through generations as a treasured family heirloom. 

Ready to Rock an Emerald?

These classic jewels have a rich legacy that surpasses dinosaurs and continues to amaze us today. Who can resist that glittering allure of a bright green gemstone? From their enchanting beauty to their diverse properties, emeralds are dazzling gems that’ll always be on-trend.

If you’re looking for a sparkling ring or a holistic healing stone, emeralds can be both! With these vibrant gemstones, you’ll have both style, serenity, and sophistication.

Take a leaf from Cleopatra’s book: life is always a little bit sweeter and greener with emeralds by your side.

Ready to buy emerald gemstones online? Shop for emeralds today!

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