Emeralds are the green variety of the mineral beryl, whose more-common blue counterparts are known as aquamarines. Frequently flawed and riddled with inclusions, emeralds are somewhat brittle gemstones, and they are not as hard as rubies and sapphires, let alone diamonds. For these reasons and others, finished emeralds are often given an emerald cut, which describes a step-cut of parallel facets that wrap around the crown (top) and pavilion (bottom) of the stone. In fact, in an emerald cut, the gem’s corners are even removed to keep them from chipping away later.

Words like cloudy, sleepy, and soft are often used to describe an emerald’s brilliance. In fact, from a monetary standpoint, emeralds are judged less on their clarity than their color. Unlike sapphires and rubies, emeralds cannot be heat treated to bring out their color, but the stones are routinely oiled to fill cracks and mask flaws, which has a similar effect.

The oiling of emeralds dates to the time of the ancient Greeks, so it's hardly a new practice. More controversial is a newer technique in which a polymer or resin, with a refractive index equal to that of an emerald’s, is forced under pressure into flawed or cracked stones. Unscrupulous dealers will traffic in stones whose polymer has also been dyed, masking the artificial ingredient’s appearance, but some resins are known to yellow with age. Buyers of vintage emeralds in necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings should ask to see a report about their stones from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or a similar third party.

While the first emerald mine is often said to have belonged to Cleopatra, emeralds in Egypt actually go back to the beginning of Ptolemaic period, about 300 BC. Emeralds were actively mined there until about 1500, when demand ebbed after Spanish conquistadors appropriated the high-grade beryl mines that were tended by native South Americans in what is now Columbia. Today, mines in Muzo and Chivor, Columbia, continue to be leading sources of pure-green emeralds, although the industrial methods used to extract the stones is thought to do needless damage to the emeralds themselves.

Brazilian emeralds are lighter in color than those of Columbia; Zambian emeralds are a deep green. Pakistan is another traditional source of emeralds, as is Afghanistan. More recently, emeralds have been mined in North Carolina, by professionals and tourists alike.

Because high-quality emeralds are so rare, some of the world’s most treasured pieces of fine jewelery have been fashioned from these stones. Hollywood royalty from Merle Oberon to Ava Gardner wore emeralds, usually accented and surrounded by countless diamonds. Actual royalty also favored the stones—Harry Winston and Cartier practically tripped over themselves in their quest to make the most beautiful emerald necklaces, bracelets, and brooches for the Duchess of Windsor.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]

Jewel History

Jewel History

Since March of 2007, readers of Lori Ettlinger Gross’s Jewel History blog have been treated to her weekly (someti… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

18ct/ 18k Gold Diamond & Emerald Large & Heavy Double Rams Head Bangle, 750Vintage Designer Diamond 19.61ct Emerald 18k Gold Floral Bracelet 31.9 Grams NrVintage Heavy 18k Gold/platinum 6.24ct Vs Diamond/emerald Cocktail Ring MountingEstate Diamond 5.24ct Emerald 18k Gold Cocktail Ring 10.5 Grams NrEstate Diamond 8.10ct Emerald 18k Gold Cocktail Ring 7.1 Grams NrEstate Diamond 1.73ct Emerald 14k Gold Ring NrEstate Diamond 6.36ct Emerald Sapphire Ruby 14k Gold Bracelet 15.3 Grams NrVintage Diamond 3.92ct Emerald Onyx 18k Gold Wide Ring 16.4 Grams NrEstate 1.95ct Natural Colombian Emerald & Diamond 14k Solid White Gold Ring$4,500 1.83ct Antique Art Deco Natural Emerald & Diamond Cocktail Ring 14k GoldFine Irish Clannad Emerald 9ct/9k/9carat/375 Gold Ring Vintage Gorgeous Tiffany & Co. Platinum Emerald And Diamond Chandelier EarringsEstate Diamond 13.85ct Tanzanite Emerald 14k Gold Drop Earrings 9.5 Grams NrFine 9ct / 9k 375 Gold And Emerald EarringsEstate Diamond 1.60ct Emerald 14k Gold Ring NrEstate Diamond 2.33ct Emerald 14k White Gold Ring NrEstate 3.50ct Natural Emerald & Diamond 14k Solid White Gold RingEstate $1900 14k Yellow Gold 0.45 Ct Natural Green Emerald And Diamond RingEstate 1.93ct Emerald 14k Gold Wide Band Statement Ring 9.2 Grams NrEstate Diamond 1.01ct Emerald 18k Gold Ring 5.2 Grams Nr18ct Gold Bouncing Diamond,emerald,sapphire & Ruby Articulated Clown Pendant,750A Gorgeous Vintage Solid 18ct Gold Cushion Cut Emerald & Old Cut Diamond Ring Vtg "crown Trifari" Alfred Philippe Jeweled Emerald+clear Round Brooch/pin Rare!Vintage Crown Trifari Ruby, Emerald & Sapphire Cabs Necklace, Bracelet, EarringsVintage 14k Two Tone 0.80ct Green Emerald Abstract Earrings - 5.44 GramsA Stunning Art Deco Design 14 Ct Gold Emerald & Diamond PendantAntique Vintage Deco 18k Gold Diamond Colombian Emerald Cocktail Ring! Sz 6.5Estate $2300 14k White Gold Diamond & Emerald 1.00 Ct Cocktail Ring (qll)14ct/ 14k Gold 1.5ct Rose Cut Diamond & Emerald Large Victorian Pendant, 585Fine Emerald And Diamond Hoop 18ct Gold Earrings 18k 750Antique Yellow Gold Silver Natural Emerald Rose Cut Diamond BroochEstate .48ct Columbian Emerald & Diamond Ring 14k White Gold $1900 A31Genuine Emerald 14k Gold Mens Vintage 1950s Wide Band RingEstate Diamond 1.07ct Emerald 18k Gold Eternity Band Ring 8.5 Grams NrEstate 3.26ct Emerald 14k Gold Drop Pendant Necklace 6.1 Grams NrAustro Hungarian Emerald Ganet Silver Gilt Pendant18k Gold Art Deco Diamond Sim Emerald Long Vintage Ladies Wrist Watch$3,999 Estate Platinum 1.48ctw Muzo Emerald & G-vs2 Genuine Diamond Ring 3.5gEstate 12.0ctw Natural Colombian Emerald And Diamond Bracelet In 14k White GoldVintage 14k Gold Pearl Emerald Diamond Three Strand Long Necklace Antique Quality 18ct. Rose Gold Emerald & Diamond Half - Hoop Ring ( 1908 )Giant 20+ Ct. Chatham Uncut Emerald~.70 Ct. Diamond 14k Gold Ring~26.3 Grams14k Solid Gold Mens Super Clean Antique Victorian Natural Emerald Ring Sz 10.75Estate Diamond 1.02ct Emerald 14k Yellow Gold Ring NrAntique Vintage 1940 Deco 18k Gold 22.78 Ct Emerald Cut Lemon Citrine Ring! Sz 7Art Deco Design Sapphire Ruby Emerald Diamond 9ct Gold Cluster Ring Ea 9k 375Estate $1400 14k Natural Emerald & Diamond 1.00ctw Bypass Ring (ol)Vintage 2.93ct Ceylon Blue Sapphire Diamond 10k Gold Ring Emerald Cut Estate Estate 14k Yellow Gold Natural Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald And Diamond Ring 1.10 CtsA Fine Pair Of Emerald Cluster 9ct Gold EarringsSterling Silver Ruby & Emerald Large Art Nouveau Design Face Ring, 925Estate Diamond 0.59ct Emerald Sapphire Ruby 18k Gold Stack Ring Set 10.3grams Nr14ct/ 14k Rose Gold Russian Emerald Earrings, 58514.9ct 100% Natural Muzo Colombian Emerald Collection Qmda70rGorgeous 18k Gold, Emerald & Diamond Ring- Size 5- Vintage Estate Find- 5 Grams.Antique 1920s $7000 2ct Old Euro Diamond Emerald Platinum Filigree RingVintage Natural 2.12ct Emerald Diamond 14k White Solid Gold Ring Size 88.6ct 100% Natural Muzo Colombian Emerald Collection Qmda817.8ct 100% Natural Muzo Colombian Emerald Collection Qmda75Huge Emerald Cut 20+ Ct. Finest London Blue Topaz 14k White Gold Ring~17.2 Grams