Prized for its beautiful green colour, the emerald gemstone is one of the most highly sought after and treasured jewels of the jewellery world. While numerous qualities are what make this gem so special, it is undoubtable that the colour influences the desirability. What is an emerald? The emerald gemstone belongs to the Beryl family, and is the green variation of beryl with chromium present . Included in the beryl family are Aquamarine, heliodor, morganite, goshenite and of course, the Emerald. Beryllium Aluminium silicate is the scientific name for a beryl gemstone, and all of these included above gems follow this chemical composition with their colour variation, or lack thereof, depending on trace quantities of impurities within the crystal lattice of the stone. It is the element Chromium causes that gorgeous, distinctive colour we so prize Emerald for. Without this element presenting as an impurity in the gemstone, the emerald would be either colourless and called goshenite, or referred to as 'green beryl' depending on which gemmologist you are talking to. So what about the inclusions? Alongside the colour, the secret inner world of the emerald is also what makes it so distinctive. The ethereal inclusions seen within the emerald gemstone have a special name; referred to as “jardin,” or “garden” - The " Jardin" being French for garden. This is because they can resemble moss or plant foliage, with fascinating fibrous needle like inclusions seen, other tiny crystals and even colour zoning.
Image Source : Gemmology resource photos The combination of inclusions against a delicious green back drop are what create this garden like effect. Usually when selecting and pricing a gemstone the important factors are cut, clarity, colour and carat weight, but with an emerald it is well understood amongst the trade that inclusions are accepted. The clarity of an emerald is not comparable to an aquamarine, because most emeralds even those at higher values can contain inclusions. While it is true that the general rule when selecting a gemstone is that a higher value equals a lack of inclusions, emeralds and other stones can even be selected for their inclusions, and with the emerald gemstone it is almost expected. An eye clean emerald would be especially valuable and fetch a high price as they are so scarce.
Image source : Charlie Luxe Vintage, Vintage 9ct Gold 1ct Emerald Pendant So why are emeralds more included than other members of the Beryl family? It is the chromium at play here. It is perhaps surprising that the colouring element locked within the crystal lattice of the emerald gemstone is also the very culprit that makes the emerald more susceptible to fracture. Emeralds are a brittle gemstone, ranking with a 'poor' for toughness while their hardness sits at a 7 1/2 on the MoHs scale of hardness. So what does this all mean? Gemmologists define a gemstone's hardness as 'the ability of a material to resist scratching and abrasion'. The ranking of a gemstone tells us how well this gemstone can hold it's polish and resist being scratched in daily wear, indicating if any additional care is needed and what gemstones can scratch it e.g. think of an emerald charm ranking at a 7 1/2 clinking against a diamond charm at a 10 - The emerald is going to be showing wear to it's surface over time.
Image Source : Gemmology resource photos The toughness is where it gets interesting for the Emerald; toughness is describing and evaluating the property of a body of a material. How well can this gemstone resist fracturing? In the case of the emerald, it has a rating of 'poor' with the Gemmological Association, meaning this gemstone does requires additional care and it cannot withstand hard knocks ( even dropped onto a hard surface has been known to sadly cause a fractured gemstone ). The cut your are most likely to see with this gemstone is a truncated step cut or 'the emerald cut', named so because this cut is favoured for lapidaries when fashioning the emerald due to the lack of sharp corners ; Sharp pointed corners are more likely to chip on a brittle gemstone, therefore a truncated step cut with the corners removed still maximises the colour of the gemstone and offers some protection.
Image source : Charlie Luxe Vintage, French Art Nouveau 14ct Gold Emerald Ring. The ring has been set with a truncated step cut emerald gemstone Emerald Lore As well as the inside world resembling a fascinating mossy garden, the emerald also has lore and myth associated with it. It is the birthstone of choice for the month of May, it has been said to guard sailors from perils at sea when worn around the neck, and also features in the 1914 book 'The book of talismans' where it is written that 'if worn in a ring, emerald strengthens the memory and protects from giddiness'.
Image source : Gemmology resource photos ................................. We love the emerald gemstone, for the colour, the lore and most importantly that beautiful " Jardin" inside the inner world. Will you be including emeralds in your jewellery collection? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch if you would like us to source something for you.