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[Orchid] GemBits - The Lore of Emeralds
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Sandra I. Smith Sunday, November 04, 2001
   
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    Long associated with Spring and birth, gloriously green emeralds
    have an extensive history of healing and supernatural powers. 

    Green is Nature's most soothing color, and early physicians
    instructed their patients to look through pieces of emerald to ease
    fatigue and treat eye diseases. Medicine made from powdered emeralds
    was used to "cure" diseases such as epilepsy. Many people believed
    that placing an emerald under the tongue enabled them to see the
    future. Others wore emeralds to improve their memory. Although the
    shades may vary, emeralds are always green. A member of the beryl
    family of minerals, emeralds get their vibrant hues from tiny
    amounts of chromium and iron impurities. Color is the most important
    factor in valuing emeralds, with vivid greens being the most
    desirable. 

    No gemstone, including emerald, is ever completely perfect. Most
    have internal imperfections, or flaws, called inclusions. Inclusions
    generally decrease the value of gemstones. Not so with emeralds.
    Many people feel that the tiny flaws add to the character of the
    emerald. Because the inclusions often look like leaves and vines,
    they are called jardin, French for "garden." Other inclusions create
    a satiny appearance known as silk. 

    Natural flawless emeralds are extremely rare and extremely
    expensive. In fact, most dealers regard flaws as an indication that
    the stone is natural. 

    Flawless emeralds are usually synthetic gems, which have been
    marketed since the 1930s. Some manufacturers now make fakes which
    contain "flaws," so as with any other expensive purchase, make sure
    you buy from a reputable dealer. 

    You may also find "emeralds" marketed under special names. These are
    all imitations. For example, Brazilian emerald is tourmaline; Lithia
    emerald is spodumene; Oriental emerald is corundum; Evening,
    Morning, and Cape emeralds are a variety of green stones; and Soude
    emerald is two or more pieces of clear quartz glued together with
    green adhesive. Egyptians were the first to mine emeralds nearly
    4000 years ago. Those mines are now exhausted and no longer in
    production. Colombia is currently the source of the world's finest
    emeralds. Afghanistan, Brazil, Pakistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe also
    produce high-quality gemstones. Colombian emeralds have a tendency
    to have fewer flaws because they were formed at the bottom of an
    ancient inland sea where there were fewer mineral impurities,
    whereas all other known emeralds are the result of volcanic action. 

    Virtually all emeralds are soaked in oil to fill any surface cracks
    and deepen the color. Steam, hot water and soaps will wash away any
    oil and ruin the appearance of most emeralds. Never put emeralds in
    an ultrasonic cleaner--it can destroy the color and sometimes
    shatter the gem. 

    Treat emeralds with care, as they are brittle and chip easily 


****Sandra I. Smith, Writer ****





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