The famous and beautiful Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, used to adorn herself with emeralds. Russian Crown Jewels from the time of the Czars have always been heavily encrusted with emeralds. It is even suggested that Emperor Nero used the soothing stone to gaze through whilst watching gladiator games in the Colosseum.
Emeralds are green members of the popular beryl family of minerals. The green colour occurs when pure, clear beryl contains trace amounts of either chromium or vanadium. Emeralds are mined in the most exotic of places: Columbia, Brazil, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
They are considered one of the most rare and valuable of all gemstones and take their place in the world of gems as one of the three most popular coloured gemstones along with sapphires and rubies. A fine emerald can even be more expensive than a high quality diamond of the same carat weight. Even when mined, in its rawest form: the uncut and unpolished crystals are immediately distinguished as something unique.
When evaluating emeralds, colour is the most important factor. A gemstone will only be classified as an emerald if the tone is medium to dark. Failing which light toned gems are called green beryls.
Interestingly the clarity of emeralds is determined differently to that of diamonds. Emeralds are graded by the eye only. Almost all emeralds have included crystals and cavities. In fact, emerald inclusions often create a beautiful, branch-like pattern known as a "jardin" (French for "garden").
Stephan Welz & Company Pty Limited, in Johannesburg, has on auction on 8August 2012, a magnificent emerald and diamond ring in 18ct white gold (lot 1104) set with an emerald-cut emeraldweighing approximately 2,55ctshighlighted on each shoulder with round brilliant-cut diamonds weighing approximately 0,14cts in total, which is certain to make many people green with envy. This lovely ring holds a pre-sale estimate of R10 000 – R15 000, with proceeds going to the SPCA in Howick.