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The Elusive Emeralds of Colombia

There exists no green gemstone more well-known than precious emerald. This viridian variety of beryl is showcased around the world for its magnificently intense saturations, exciting inclusion gardens and lush depth of color.

Emerald's most famous locality for mining is set in the wilderness of Colombia. The city of Bogota has become a trade-spot for international buyers and sellers to do business revolving around this green stone. Much of the emerald production that arises from the country's efforts however, are from the regions of Muzo and Chivor. The former is known for producing some of the world's most expensive emerald specimens.

Emeralds from Colombia, in fine qualities, tend to be colored with an almost pure primary green. A hint of iron-colored blue modifies the color ever so slightly, adding a cool tone to the palette of a stone.

The element most responsible for emerald's green hue is none other than chromium, however vanadium can also cause greens in some emeralds, like a majority of specimens unearthed from Zambia (another prominent source, but lesser known for fine qualities).

The name emerald stemmed out from the word "smaragdos" from ancient Greek, meaning 'green gem'. Today, aside from the mines of Colombia, emerald can also be found in many countries around the world- such as Brazil, Zambia, Egypt, Russia, Zimbabwe, Switzerland and Nigeria among others.

Traditionally, it is better to find an emerald with a bluish tinge rather than one with a yellow-green color composition. The latter usually commands a much lower price, as it's seen as more commercial and common on the markets.

Most commercial quality emeralds are lighter in tone. It's much rarer to find dark or deep toned emeralds within the lower brackets of the trade, however the best qualities of emerald possess a medium to medium-dark tone with vivid saturations.

It's much more normal for emerald to have a lot of inclusions compared to other gems like aquamarine or topaz. This is due to the environment that it grows in. You'll see that even the most expensive museum quality stones will have a little bit of natural crystals or liquid inclusions within their bodies. This also aids in determining a stone's authenticity and source.

Emerald, as precious as it is, can also be synthesized or created in a laboratory. Hydrothermal enclaves and flux crucibles can grow crystals of green beryl using mineral-rich solutions over long periods of time. These synthetic man-made gems are very beautiful in their own right, but do not come close to the value of naturally mined emerald. You can learn more about how to tell synthetic emeralds apart from natural emeralds when you take part in our workshop classes coming later in the year.

Be aware that other imitations, like green-dyed quench crackled quartz can also distinctly resemble emerald. People heat artificially colored quartz to high temperatures, causing internal fractures that can be mistaken for emerald's characteristic inclusions.

A vast majority of natural emeralds also undergo enhancement procedures before being released into the jewelry trade. The most common treatment is that of fracture-filling, using a variety of oils and resins to simulate better apparent clarity levels.

Gemcamp laboratories does routine checking for emerald authenticity, and can differentiate synthetics and imitations from natural green beryls using a variety of gemological tests and procedures. We also evaluate for the presence of treatments and oiling.

Contact us via facebook today, in order to schedule an appointment for the gemological assessment of your emerald jewelry.
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