EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EMERALDS
If you are like me and born in the month of May, then you just might receive an emerald for your birthday. Or if you’re prepared to wait, it is also the gemstone marking 20 and 35 years of marriage. I just might have to wait for that!
When it comes to finding the emerald of your desire, how do you know what to look for or where to go? These are questions I get asked all the time by my girlfriends and you, my dear readers. So, let me share with you my expertise as a gemologist and walk you through everything you need to know about buying an emerald.
AN EMERALD AS AN INVESTMENT
The first decision you need to make before settling on the ideal emerald is whether or not you want an investment piece or if you are following your heart’s desire and looking for a design piece. One example I can give you is Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald and diamond pendant brooch that fetched $6,578,500 in 2011 – a record-breaking $280,000 per carat. There’s no doubt that this beautiful brooch is an investment piece, but it is also an exquisite design by Bulgari.
Next to a diamond, a one-carat emerald will look larger than a one-carat diamond because it weighs quite a bit less. But if you want the true beauty of an emerald to shine, then you’re going to have to invest in at least 5 carats. Before you decide to buy, find out where the emerald was sourced and obtain the certificate. Also ask what kind of oiling and other clarity treatments were used in the finishing process. The most precious emeralds have an exceptional transparent quality and uniform colour.
REMEMBER: AN EMERALD IS FRAGILE
If it is an engagement ring you are after, an emerald is too fragile for everyday wear and tear. Emeralds are relatively hard stones – 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale – but they are brittle and if mistreated can chip, scratch and even break. It is important to bear this in mind when choosing the setting for your emerald. You will need something like a bezel setting that offers the utmost protection and supports the stone completely.
AN EMERALD’S COLOUR AND VALUE
The green colour of an emerald comes from three trace elements – chromium, vanadium and iron. The saturation of these elements will determine the hue of the emerald. However, there is no scale for the emerald’s beautiful shade of green and even the certificate, unlike that of a diamond, will not help you determine its quality and true value. That’s why it is so important to buy from a reputable source (or your most-trusted relative!)
Training your eye to spot the difference between a high quality emerald and an inferior one shouldn’t take you too long – only a few years! Seriously though, it takes an expert eye to recognize the subtle variations that determine an emerald’s worth. In a nutshell, look for a stone that is not too yellow and not too blue, and look for a Gubelin certificate.
TAKE A TRIP TO COLOMBIA, ZAMBIA OR BRAZIL IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT EMERALD
Some of the earliest emerald mines were in Egypt dating as far back as 3500 BC and owned by Cleopatra, who had an insatiable passion for these gems. But the oldest emerald on record is 2.97 billion years.
Today, the top three locations in the world for emeralds are Zambia, Colombia and Brazil. Each location produces emeralds of a slightly different shade, from the warm and intense green colour of Colombian emeralds to the cooler, bluish green gems of Zambia. Colombia’s three mines – Muzo, Chivor and Coscuez – are generally credited as producing the best emeralds in the world, though this is open for debate. Because it’s becoming harder and harder to find Colombian emeralds, as the mines are practically all depleted, the best quality stones from this area will fetch about £100k per carat, compared to £70k per carat for a Zambian emerald. However, it is important to consider that Colombian emeralds have reached their highest market price and will not appreciate much more in value.
During my visit to H. Stern, I noticed how much brighter and lighter these Brazilian emeralds are in comparison. Sourced from the state of Minas Gerais, these emeralds are a good and affordable choice for first-time buyers. I think I will take them all!
ASK FOR A GEMFIELDS EMERALD
Commited to protecting the surrounding local communities and natural landscape from which the gems are sourced, if it’s a Gemfields stone, you have nothing to worry about. As the world’s leading supplier of emeralds, Gemfields are well known for their fair and ethical standards. You can read more about my visit to the Gemfields ruby launch, guest starring Mila Kunis, here.
COLOMBIAN VERSUS ZAMBIAN EMERALDS
Colombian emeralds are highly sought after by connoisseurs all over the world. With a deep, intense colour, these emeralds are a deep forest green with a hint of blue, and darker in comparison. Although the difference in colour is hard to trace, Zambian emeralds range from forest green to bluish-green and make a good alternative to the Colombian jewels. Both sources produce stunningly beautiful stones.
CLEAN YOUR EMERALD WITH CARE
While ultrasonic cleaning works for some jewellery, the extreme temperatures used in this method will damage your emerald and reduce the clarity enhancing treatment. Because the emerald is quite a soft stone, you can expect to find inclusions that are known in the business as an internal jardin or garden. The majority of emeralds are treated with oils and resins to bring out the clarity, this is a process that the Romans started using to bring out the beauty of their gemstones.
WHERE TO SHOP FOR AN EMERALD RING
Bulgari offers some of the finest emeralds in the world, using a combination of Zambian and Colombian gems in their high jewellery collections. You will not find emeralds in their everyday jewellery collections, but peridots for a splash of green.
Most of the Bulgari emeralds are Colombian, but now that these are becoming harder and harder to find, Zambian emeralds are quickly moving up in value. You can expect to pay £200k for a solitaire emerald ring of 4 carats or more. The price tag for a 3-carat Colombian emerald is around £120k, and for a 4-carat Zambian emerald, £150k. Every item comes with a certificate and the world-renowned expertise of Bulgari.
Above is the Boodles bracelet with the finest untreated Colombian Emeralds from the Muzo mine.
Cartier sells only the finest untreated emeralds from Colombia. Cocktail rings are what you will find at Cartier, starting from £500k. Because of the brittle nature of an emerald, Cartier does not recommend wearing this beauty for everyday wear.
Harry Winston – In the style of Art Deco, my favourite emerald ring is the Central Park. For 4.5 carats, you’ll expect to pay around £142k. Though Harry Winston is known for their diamonds, about 10 percent of their collections feature coloured gemstones. Using only Colombian emeralds, each magnificent piece comes with a Gubelin certificate.
Theo Fennell uses only Gemfields emeralds, so you know you are getting high quality, ethical gems. My favourite is this unique cocktail ring for £50-60k called Kissing Frogs with a phenomenal 42.66-carat sugarloaf emerald capping the masterwork.
I love the detail in this ring – the hand-engraved, enameled bull rushes and dragonflies set the scene for the kissing frogs, and add a little whimsy to an extraordinary ring. This would be a purchase from the heart, not the wallet!
Graff uses only Colombian emerald stones and have beautifil cabochons in stock. It’s hard to stay focused on anything but diamonds when you’re in the presence of Graff.
Amrapali offer exquisite bespoke jewellery pieces at a wide range of prices. I tried on a few solitaire emerald rings ranging from £10k to £100k. The Gubelin certificate can be requested before purchase.
I hope this information will help you find the most precious emerald of your heart’s desire.
I am extremely happy to announce that my new jewelry book – GEMOLOGUE: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips – is now on Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s the first book of its kind solely dedicated to jewellery.
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GEMOLOGUE jewelry blog by Liza Urla is a celebration of fine, fashion and vintage jewellery featuring talented jewellery designers, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews. This jewellery blog’s goal is to encourage and educate about jewellery online in a fresh and original fashion to inspire women and men across the globe in a fashion and travelling context.
Jewellery blogger, writer Liza Urla, the founder of GEMOLOGUE, is a London-based and NYC-educated gemologist, who has travelled to and lived in many countries. She is now one of the most influential digital jewellery tastemakers. Her jewellery influence has been acknowledged by Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
*Photographed by Julia Flit. Styling and art direction by Liza Urla. All photos and videos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.
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