Thursday, 14 May 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Emerald Rings



There’s no doubt the emerald is a captivating gemstone. Cleopatra loved them; the Mughals associated their colour with Paradise; and the Incas believed their goddess prized them above all else. Though it’s an unconventional option for an engagement ring, an emerald can make a striking statement. Halle Berry, Jackie Kennedy and Zoe Saldana have all chosen them to great effect. But emeralds are very different to diamonds, rubies or sapphires, and clients should make sure they understand their unique properties before committing to such a bold choice.

The first thing to note is that the Gemological Institute of America defines emerald as a ‘Type 3’ gemstone. This means that it’s very rare to find an emerald that is completely free of blemishes (or ‘inclusions’) that are visible to the naked eye. These inclusions can be tiny fractures or cleavages, growth lines in the crystal, or mineral impurities. This is simply the nature of emerald, and it’s unfair to judge it by the same clarity standards that are applied to other gemstones such as diamonds.




Copyright  Shutterstock

If the inclusions are very large or too prominent then they will disfigure the stone. But small inclusions should be seen as the emerald’s unique ‘fingerprints’, created naturally when the crystal formed beneath the earth’s crust. Emeralds that are almost totally “clean” are unusual, and very expensive, so if you hate the idea of any visible blemishes, then emerald is probably the wrong gemstone for you.

Another consideration is that the inclusions within an emerald are natural weak spots within the crystal. If an emerald gets knocked against a hard object, it’s possible for an inclusion to open up, and become more apparent. This compounds the fact that even the ‘cleanest’ emerald will never be the hardest of gemstones. With a Mohs Hardness Score of 7.5-8.0, emerald lags well behind ruby and sapphire (9), and doesn’t come close to diamond (10). While careless handling can damage any engagement ring, clients who chose emerald need to be particularly careful to avoid scratching or chipping the gemstone

If you are happy to live with some minor blemishes, and are prepared to take good care of your ring, the next thing to think about is your emerald’s colour. Emerald is composed of beryl with trace elements of chromium, vanadium, and iron, and it’s the relative quantities of these elements that determine the stone’s colour. Without them it technically isn’t an emerald at all, but a ‘green beryl’ which has a much lower market value.



Copyright lmphoto - Shutterstock

An emerald’s colour is defined by three factors; hue, tone, and saturation. Hue refers to the type of green, for example whether it has hints of blue or yellow in it. Tone defines the colour of the emerald in terms of light and dark. The saturation of the colour is all about the level of its intensity. The most valuable emeralds are bluish green to pure green, with a tone that’s neither too dark nor too light, and vivid colour saturation.

If you find a stone with good colour and clarity, the final aspect to consider is whether or not it has been enhanced through some treatment.. If an emerald has disfiguring inclusions that reach the surface, these might be filled with resin or glass to improve the stone’s appearance. Unfortunately this can make the stone vulnerable to heat, changes in air pressure, and a wide range of chemicals.

Another potential problem is the use of coloured dyes to enhance the saturation of emeralds. These dyes can often be dissolved by chemicals such as alcohol or acetone, and exposure to strong sunlight can also cause them to fade.

Many emeralds are submerged in oil at the point when they are cut, to mask inclusions and enhance colour. This process is centuries-old and needn’t necessarily be a problem, but like any form of treatment, it should certainly be disclosed to the consumer. Over time, the oil will tend to dry out, and the stone will eventually need to be re-oiled. Luckily this isn’t a difficult or expensive process.



A jeweller positioning an emerald in a ring

 Copyright  Shutterstock

Even emeralds that have never been submerged are likely to have minor traces of oil near the surface, as there is oil on the cutting wheels that are used to facet and polish them them. If you have any concerns, a reputable supplier won’t object to you paying to have an emerald checked by a laboratory before you make a purchasing decision.

Emeralds are wonderful gems, but perhaps more than any other gemstone they require a bit of specialist knowledge if you are going to get it right. Consumers should be careful, but shouldn’t be discouraged - if you’re looking for a striking and distinctive engagement ring, an emerald could be a great choice.

* This article is a guest post by David Rhode, of ethical jeweller Ingle & Rhode)

If you like this post check out my article The Secret To Buying The Perfect Wedding Ring - The Diary Of A Jewellery Lover

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26 comments

  1. Emeralds are truly a beautiful gem stone. I used to work in the jewellery quarter and loved being surrounded by gorgeous stones all day.

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    1. I bet that was an interesting job, I had my own jewellers for many years :)

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  2. Emeralds are my favourite gem stone. They are stunning

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    1. Every emerald is different and beautiful in my eyes.

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  3. i love emerald , the colour is almost mesmorising to me , especially in a stunning stone set like it is here

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  4. Interesting - I learnt a lot - never knew oiling an emerald was such a thing.

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    1. I learnt about this when i was studying for a jewellery diploma.

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  5. I accept all blemishes, I would gladly wear an emerald ring, personally I think it is a beautiful stone.

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    1. Each blemish adds character to the ring however the 'best' emeralds are blemish free. It depends on what you are looking for and how much you want to spend :)

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  6. That's really interesting - I love emeralds x x

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    1. I hope the article was useful and informative.

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  7. This was so interesting, love learning new facts and it is such a beautiful stone. If only someone would buy me one :)

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    1. I am glad you have learnt something new from my blog.

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  8. What a beautiful coloured stone although I still prefer diamonds.

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    1. Emerald's are gorgeous and diamonds are too :)

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  9. I really want an emerald ring, such beautiful stones

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  10. I have a beautiful emerald ring - I wonder who sold me it ;) I am lucky to have a friend with such knowledge on things. x

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    1. I know you cherish your beautiful emerald ring Sarah-Louise!

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  11. What an interesting article. I love emeralds. I'd love a piece of emerald and diamond jewelery

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    1. I feel diamonds bring out the radiance in emeralds.

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  12. I do love the look of emeralds, though I don't own any. This is a very informative post xx

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  13. Emerald is my birthstone so I have always had a soft spot for it.

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  14. I adore emerald jewellery its such a striking colour! i would love hubs to buy me more! :-)

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    1. You need to speak to him then Jaime :)

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  15. I love emeralds, absolutely beautiful!

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  16. The colour of emeralds is amazing - hard to believe they are natural. Kaz x

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