Emerald | Gemopedia

Few gemstones command as much desire and passion as emerald. Since antiquity, emerald's rich "green fire" has symbolized eternal spring and immortality. Long shrouded in myth and lore, it has reigned as the supreme green gem with no indication that its position will ever change. The favorite of Cleopatra, Spanish Conquistadors and today's Red Carpet, wars have waged over this treasured stone. In the 1st century AD, Roman historian Pliny the Elder wrote that "nothing greens greener" than emeralda sentiment that continues today, as it remains one of the most sought-after gems on the market. The beautiful green hues of this beryl variety, combined with its rarity, make it one of the world's most valuable gemstones.
Colors
Light To Very Dark Green To Bluish Green, Slightly Yellowish Green
Value
Jardin, the French word for "garden," is the name used in the industry to refer to inclusions in emeralds. Because of the nature of this type III gemstone, it is accepted that emeralds are commonly included. Rather than detracting from a stone's value, those jardin are viewed as an easy way to distinguish a natural emerald from a synthetic. It is also understood that nearly all emeralds have been treated to improve their clarity.

Emerald Classification

Common Name

Emerald

Species

Beryl

Variety

Emerald

Colors

Light To Very Dark Green To Bluish Green, Slightly Yellowish Green

Alternate Names

Gemstone Groups

Key Separations

refractive index, birefringence, optic character, pleochroism, spectrum and possibly magnification

Comments

Due to their included nature emeralds are almost always oiled. Chatoyancy and asterism are possible in emeralds.

Emerald Optical Properties

Transparency

Transparent - Translucent

Refractive Index

1.577-1.6
Tolerance:(+0.017/-0.017)

Birefringence

0.005-0.009

Optic Character

Uniaxial

Optic Sign

Negative

Polariscope Reaction

Doubly Refractive (DR)

Fluorescence

SWUV: Inert to weak orangy red to red
LWUV: Inert to strong orangy red to red

CCF Reaction

Some appear pink or red; not diagnostic.

Pleochroism

Dichroic, moderate to strong, varying shades of body color

Dispersion

Strength: weak fire Value: 0.014

Comments

Emerald Chemistry & Crystallography

Chemical Name

beryllium aluminum silicate

Chemical Formula

Be3Al2(SiO3)6

Synthesis

Crystal System

Hexagonal

Classification

Silicate

Nature

Natural

Crystallinity

Crystalline

Comments

Emerald Characteristic Physical Properties

Hardness

7.5

Streak

White

Specific Gravity

2.67-2.9 Range:0.18/-0.05 Typical:2.72

Toughness

Poor

Inclusions

Emerald is a type III clarity stone. 3-phase inclusions typical of Colombian material. 2-phase inclusions usually found in stones from India. Tremolite needles are typical of Zimbabwe stones. Actinolite needles can be found in Siberian stones. Emeralds sometime have tube-like and bamboo-like inclusions, liquid and fingerprint inclusions, calcite, pyrite, mica, needles and amphibole inclusions.

Luster

Vitreous

Stability

Fair

Fracture

Conchoidal

Cleavage

Poor, in one direction

Comments

History
Emeralds were discovered so long ago--thousands and thousands of years ago--that the details of their discovery are unknown. While no definitive records exist, Cleopatra's emerald mines, in upper Egypt east of Aswan, are believed to have been worked as early as 2000 B.C. Even more astounding is the fact that emeralds are believed to be the first gems traded in markets in Babylon around 4000 B.C., adding a couple thousand years more to emerald's long, rich history.
Origin
The name "emerald" is derived from the Greek word smaragados meaning "green stone." Many other green stones were also given this name in ancient times, before modern gemological testing allowed for gemstones to be classified in ways other than by color alone.
Learn More
Phenomenon: In rare cases, the internal characteristics of an emerald can create chatoyancy (the cat's-eye effect) when the gem is cut en cabochon. Also, in Colombia, dark carbonaceous material is sometimes trapped between emerald crystals during growth, resulting in unique Trapiche emeralds. When carefully cut and polished en cabochon, the dark lines form distinctive star- or wheel-like patterns. Learn More: The emerald cut was designed specifically for emeralds. Because emerald is somewhat fragile, the corners of the rectangular shapes were cut off to prevent breakage. A museum in Vienna houses an entire vase cut from a single emerald that weighs 2,205 carats and measures 4-3/4 inches tall.
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