Emeralds are the birthstone for May. I am a May baby and I love this stone above all other.
#6322 Victorian emerald and diamond ring.
The color of a beautiful emerald is incomparable to anything else in nature that I can think of. It is the standard by
which we measure brilliant green. Of course, there are emeralds and emeralds. We are talking the stones with deep green
color, possibly a minute tinge of blue, but not yellow.
They have a brightness and luminosity that no other gemstone can rival. Technically, emeralds may be graded by color, cut
and clarity, but to me, when you see the great stones, it is simply a question of WOW!.
Emeralds have been enjoyed and valued by civilisations going back thousands of years - Egyptians, Ancient Greeks and
Chinese. The Indian Mughals really loved their emeralds to the extent that we associate many of the world's best gems with
them. Interestingly, the beautiful stones in their jewelry that were raided by colonials centuries later, came originally
from Brazil and not India itself. We can see mind-boggling multi-strand emerald necklaces worn by Maharajas. Many of the
jewels left to these once-fabulous princes found their way to companies like Cartier, who set them in some of the most
exciting Art Deco jewelry. See below for a marvellous, true story of these gems.
#6117 Art Deco emerald ring.
The significance of emeralds has been varied, as were the cultures who admired these beauties. The Ancient Egyptians
coveted their magical powers, the Sumerians wore them to ward off the Evil Eye. Others saw emeralds as a source of
blessings in life, as well has beneficial to good health.
Today, most of the best emeralds in the world are mined in Colombia. I once saw an old 'photo of a gentleman gemologist
who had gone emerald hunting in that country. Every one of the people in the picture wore multiple weapons. Clearly, the
stakes were high. Another emerald dealer I met, told me that he got out of the business when it simply became too dangerous. Are we seeing a pattern here?
Emeralds are relatively soft when compared to other stones. One has to take very good care of them. I have a fabulous
Victorian emerald ring, surrounded by diamonds, but if you look very carefully, you will see a chip on one corner. Yes, it
can be smoothed over, but that would be compromising the integrity of it's antique qualities.
#4978 Victorian emerald and diamond ring.
Like almost all Georgian jewelry, emeralds were usually foiled in the old days. In this way, many of their faults were
hidden. And emeralds do have faults. They are more often than not included (internal flaws). Foiling gives you a lot more
bang for your buck, making use of gems that would not pass muster in a modern setting. When you look for antique emerald
jewels, you should take this into account. The vast majority of emeralds to be found in jewelry on the market today have
some degree of treatment - oiling. A small amount of oil to brighten the color up a tad is quite acceptable.
When you are looking at modern jewels, you do have to consider the qualities of
the gemstone. The 3 'c's do count here.
#6267 Tiffany & Co. emerald and diamond earrings.
There are other stones that are sometimes confused with emeralds. Peridot is also green, but has more yellow and less
brilliance and depth. Tourmalines come in beautiful shades of deep green. Tsavorite garnets are magnificent, with a deep
green that rivals all but the best emeralds. Remember that tsavorites were only discovered in the late 1960's and came
onto the market from the 1970's, so if anyone tries to sell you an antique tsavorite, simply run the other way.
Other green garnets are also to be found.
Because emeralds are my personal favorite, we are likely to revisit them in the future.
A true story:
Sita Devi, Maharani of Baroda, was one of the richest and most glamorous women that ever lived. She and her family owned
superlative gems, many of them restyled in Paris by Cartier and especially by Van Cleef and Arpels, her favorites.
At a grand ball in 1957, the brash Wallis Simpson was boasting her necklace of emeralds and diamonds made by Harry Winston
in 1953. Present at the same function, the
Maharani overheard this and remarked for all to hear that she had also received many compliments when she wore these
gems as anklets on her feet. The put-down was clear as a bell and Wallis Simpson returned the necklace immediately.
#5814 Emeralds and Diamonds vintage bracelet.
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