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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
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 ****