Due anelli di Denise Cassou con due grandi smeraldi dalla tonalità completamente diversa
Due anelli di Denise Cassou con due grandi smeraldi dalla tonalità completamente diversa. Two rings by Denise Cassou with two large emeralds with completely different shades

How to recognize the emeralds

The emerald is the stone linked to the month of May. It is one of the most precious stones, yet not everyone knows it thoroughly. Here are the essential things to know about the emerald ♦

How to recognize an emerald? It is easy to understand the value and quality? The answer is no. Only a survey conducted by an expert (or disinterested unpaid) can provide a serious judgment. But knowing the basics can help you figure out if you should pay for an expert opinion, and it helps to have an idea about the stone that interests you.

Anello in oro giallo con smeraldi
John Rubel, ring with white gold, emerald, sapphires and diamonds

Four C.  Emeralds, like diamonds, are evaluated based on four parameters (The Four C): color, clarity (clarity), cut (cut) and carat. Unlike diamonds, however, for the color of emeralds is the most outstanding feature. If you think it is also the only gem that gives a name to a color: emerald green.

Color. In the emerald hue and saturation of the color can vary significantly. A deep shade is most appreciated. Hence, the value is linked to the gradient of color: the more intense, the more sought after.

Anello in oro rosa con smeraldo
Vittoria d’Aste-Surcouf, rose gold ring with emerald

Sharpness. As for diamonds, in an emerald can be no inclusions or blemishes. Sometimes these imperfections are invisible to the naked eye : you have to use powerful lenses and watch against the stone. Among other things, these tiny tracks constitute a kind of ” fingerprint “. Obviously, inclusions, bubbles or scratches that internal influence the value of the stone.

Anello di Van Cleef & Arpels, diamanti e smeraldo
Ring by Van Cleef & Arpels, diamonds and emerald with the classic emerald cut

Cutting. The word cut (cut) refers to the way in which it was given shape in an emerald to optimize its beauty. A great emerald can be improved only with the experience of a good cutter. Many have a particular cut emeralds, roughly rectangular in shape that is called, in fact, the emerald cut.

The duPont Emerald, anello con smeraldo colombiano di 9,11 carati
The duPont Emerald, ring with a 9.11 carat Colombian emerald

Carat. It is a measure of the weight of an emerald. Of course, the larger an emerald, the higher its carat weight, and often the cost. However, it is not the main feature : better a smaller stone, but transparent and intense color that a large but full of imperfections.

Bracciale caratterizzato da un magnifico smeraldo cabochon ottagonale dello Zambia da 71,88 carati e da 41,06 carati di diamanti rotondi incolori taglio brillante incastonati in platino
Bracelet featuring a magnificent 71.88 carat octagonal cabochon Zambian emerald and 41.06 carats of round brilliant-cut colorless diamonds set in platinum

Provenance. The best emeralds are those of Colombia. Other mines are found in Zambia, Africa. Today about 40-50% of the emeralds mined come from Zambia, where these gems were formed 500 million years ago. Emeralds were discovered in the African country in the late 1970s and the first official auction by the Zambian government took place in 1982. But in those years the classification of emeralds was not like it is today. The lower grades weren’t in high demand and didn’t have a great rating. But now groups like Gemfields and Grizzly, with their new technology, are able to propose and classify stones in a better way.

Anello con oro brunito e graffiato, con al centro uno smeraldo
Antonini, ring with black and scratched rhodium-plated gold, with an emerald in the centre

Beware of treatments. The stones are often treated to improve their appearance. One of these techniques is the so-called heat-treatment (ie through heat): it consists in heating the stone to improve its color and purity. The Deep Diffusion Treatment instead consists in spreading in the stone additives such as beryllium, whose purpose is to obtain colors totally different from the original ones, generally rare in nature. For example, the orange color for sapphires. These two treatments are recognized by professionals, and are specified on the certificate of the gemmology laboratory that examined the stone.

Bracciale di Bulgari con diamanti e smeraldi appartenuto a Liz Taylor
Bulgari bracelet with diamonds and emeralds that belonged to Liz Taylor

Origin. In Buddhism, the emerald is considered one of the seven treasures and equated with wisdom. The word emerald comes from the Latin smaragdus, which in turn derives from the Greek word σμάραγδος (smaragdos). But the Greek word derives from izmargad, a Semitic term, or maragata, a Sanskrit term (ancient language of India), which means green stone.

Anello con smeraldo e zaffiri
Ring with emerald and sapphires by Manuel Bouvier
Anello con diamanti e smeraldo
Ring with diamonds and emerald
Il grande smeraldo del peso di 6,225 carati
The large emerald weighing 6,225 carats
Smeraldo con piccole imperfezioni interne
Emerald with small internal imperfections

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