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Emerald

Изумруд

Now it is time to talk about other wonderful gems – the emeralds. It is no coincidence that their attractive color, so rich and deep, even gave its name to one of the various shades of green, emerald green. Quality emeralds are not only very beautiful but also extremely expensive, with some jewelry piece being even more expensive than diamonds. But these green gems should be free from inclusions and cracks, which is, unfortunately, quite rare for an emerald.

Gemologists use the name “emerald” only for precious stones from the large beryl family (beryllium and aluminum silicate Be3Al2 (SiO3)6). Members of this large family have the same chemical formula but are of different colors: aquamarine is blue, heliodor is yellow, morganite is pink, biksbyite is red. Pure beryl is colorless. Chrome and vanadium, as well as iron (though indirectly), are present in very small quantities that are included in the chemical formula, but it is enough to result in  the emerald’s color; also, their presence is what sets this kind of beryl apart all others. Chrome and vanadium are chromorphic elements that make possible the absorption of crimson, yellow, and red, but when let through green and blue, and iron lets through yellow. That is why the hues of green vary considerably in a crystal. Subcolor plays from the steel-like blue-green to a warm, winter apple green-yellow.

Historically, the name “emerald” is unclear. It was simply that in the ancient world, any red stone was called ruby and every green colored stone was called emerald. But nowadays, we realize the names of similarly colored stones can be different.

A beryl crystal in the rockA beryl crystal in the rock izumrud_02 Huge Uralian beryl. In Russia it will be sold as an emeraldHuge Uralian beryl. In Russia it will be sold as an emerald

“Emerald” is sort of a trademark, as it has been used for centuries, while the name “beryl” appeared later. Therefore, not every green beryl has the right to be called an emerald. Only the gemstones with rich coloring are worthy of this name. That is why there is a problem of differentiating between an emerald and a green beryl. As one of the presidents of Tiffany’s once reasonably pointed out, there is no correct scientific way to measure the density of the green color that would differ an emerald from a green beryl; the actual difference usually depends on who is who--the seller or the buyer. In the 1980s the gemologists came to a conclusion that only the human eye is able to define whether the stone is a green beryl or an emerald. With this, it is quite interesting to recall what William Douglas, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court once said: “I can’t give a definition of pornography, but if I see it, I’ll recognize it for sure."

The word “emerald” comes from Greek smaragdos which means, quite simply, “a green stone.” Even during the Inca civilization in South America, where the best emeralds are still found, this gem was considered sacred. There is a legend that in one of the temples, there was an emerald the size of an ostrich egg (16-18 centimeters length, weighing about three kilograms). This stone was considered an incarnation of the goddess Uminah and was worshipped as such. When the Inca Empire fell, the Spanish failed to seize the stone, and it is believed that the priests hid it. But it is quite possible this legend is just another one of those Eldorado legends.

The most ancient findings of emeralds was in the Red Sea region. These deposits, which were mined even during the Egyptian pharaohs’ time and later called “the deposits of Cleopatra,” are now almost completely depleted. The ancient Romans were digging the emeralds on the territory of today’s Salzburg Alps: these dark, yellow-green crystals shone from the crowns of Caesar and the diadems of the nobles. In the sacred Indian scriptures, the “green stone” was described as the source of healing power and was thought to bring luck to its owner. The emeralds occupied the major place in the treasuries of the Indian maharajas. In the 16th century, after the New World had been discovered, the era of the South American emeralds began.

The largest emerald in the world, “Mogul,” received its name after the dynasty of the Great Moguls that reigned in India during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was possibly brought from Colombia and sold in the second half of 17th century to the last of the Great Moguls, Aurangzeb, who was, at that time, richer than any of the European monarchs. The stone weighs 217.8 carats and is about 10 cm high. On its side, the words of Muslim prayers are engraved, and the other side is decorated with a floral design. This legendary emerald was sold to an anonymous buyer for $2.2 million at a Christie’s auction in 2001.

The largest emerald in the world – MogulThe largest emerald in the world – Mogul Emerald carving becomes more and more popularEmerald carving becomes more and more popular The Patricia crystal in New York myseumThe Patricia crystal in New York myseum

Many of the famous emeralds can be seen only in museums or private collections. In the Museum of Natural History in New York, ”Patricia,” the perfect crystal from Colombia weighing 632 carats, is on display. The collection of Bogot? Bank has five fabulous stones from 220 to 1796 carats. Exceptionally precious Indian emeralds bought or seized by the Persian shahs during their Indian campaigns are now kept in the State Treasury of Iran. The Farah's diadem, which belonged to the third wife of the last Iranian Shah, Reza Pekhlevi, is among them as well. But many stones that were considered emeralds in ancient times are, in fact, other kinds of green stones. For example, gemology expertise now proves that many Indian emeralds are green tourmalines and Russian ones are actually demantoids.

It is quite understandable why the green color of an emerald pleases our eye so much. Green is the color of life and springtime. In Ancient Rome, this color belonged to the god of beauty and love. Even now, green has a very special meaning in various cultures. Green is the holy color of Islam. Emerald green is the color of harmony and love of nature and life. Even Pliny noticed: “Green gladdens our eyes without tiring it." He is right: one can look at an emerald for ages, as it brings us pleasant, calming emotions. This color is always fresh; under the sun, an emerald looks different than under a lamp, and it is able to startle us with its rich and diverse palette of hues.

Because we live on a green planet, our eye is able to distinguish over 10,000 shades of green. Moreover, we perceive the color green on the subconscious level, which brings us pleasant emotions and a sense of confidence. It is not improbable, then, to assume that the color of the dollar was chosen based on this knowledge!

The crystals from Muzo (Colombia) are considered the standard according to which the color of an emerald is now judged. Their deep and rich color, containing light blue shade without any touch of gray, is the standard of emerald green color. The beauty of Colombian emeralds is obvious, but some do prefer the stones from Afghanistan and Zambia that have a warm, yellowish shade. The stones from the North Carolina are also more yellow. Emeralds from different locations show completely different hues, and sometimes it is impossible to define the origins of a stone by eye. Still, the distinction of origin is very important, as the slightest difference in shades, hue, and deepness of color is crucial in determining the price of a gem.

izumrud_11 An emerald necklaceAn emerald necklace

Emeralds of the highest quality are very rare. While other types of beryl–aquamarine, morganite, or heliodor–usually form large crystals without any flaws, the emeralds are, on the contrary, full of all kinds of inclusions, and sometimes are even fully clouded. For example, 77 percent of emeralds that are mined from one of the most productive deposits in Brazil are not suitable for cutting at all. The number and type of inclusions influence the price considerably: they rank second in importance after the color.

As “clear” emeralds are extremely rare, the number of inclusions accepted in these gemstones is higher than for other gems. Sometimes, the inclusions can tell the gemologist about the origins of the stone, though nothing is ever certain; sometimes, crystals display peculiarities of inclusions and their chemical composition, therefore resembling emeralds mined on other continents.

The inclusions in an emerald are clearly seen by the naked eye, so if you cannot spot any, it is quite possible this is a synthetic mineral. It is recommended to avoid calling such stones “emeralds,” though in Russia it is a common practice. Russian hydrothermal emeralds imitate to perfection the natural flaws of an emerald--cracks, bubbles, cleavages etc. Even an expert is only able to spot the fake only under the microscope. Thus, the question arises: why is a synthetic beryl is deliberately “mutilated” by such flaws? The answer is quite obvious: to sell any synthetic product, it has to look as natural as possible.

Do you remember how the diamond sellers invented a whole range of catchy names, calling the pale-yellow diamonds “Champagne” and the brown ones “Cognac”? The sellers of emeralds are just as smart: they found a special term for all the inclusions in a stone and call it “the emerald garden.”

Quite often, these inclusions have a complicated structure combining liquid, gas, and solid elements. For example, among Indian emeralds, one can find the so-called “negative crystals,” which occur when the hollows are filled with liquid with a bubble of air inside. The Tanzanian stones also have areas filled with liquid and mica. If the inclusions have all three components, they are called “three-phase” stones. Such “threephasers” in the Colombian emeralds are represented by flat hollows filled with liquid and an air bubble with a small cube of sodium chloride inside.

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With all of this said, where does one find the best emeralds?  Well, I must say, the perfect crystals are found everywhere. But if we take into account the percentage, most of those are mined in Colombia and Afghanistan. But still, you should remember that large emeralds of good color and quality are quite rare, which is why they are valued so much.

As before, the leader in mining high-quality emeralds is Colombia. There are over 150 deposits in this country, though not all of them are used. On the other hand, some of those deposits, such as Muzo and Chivor, have been used since the Inca Empire! The most effective deposit nowadays is Cosquez: It accounts for three-fourths of the whole Colombian emerald production. The color of Colombian emeralds is so fantastically beautiful that they are valued very high on the market, and even visible inclusions cannot influence their price. But these beauties are not everything Colombia has to offer; the world-famous trapiche emeralds, which feature a hexagram, as well as extremely rare emeralds with the cat-eye effect, are also mined there.

No matter how good the Colombian emeralds are, the location where a stone is found does not fully guarantee its quality. There are many great stones which are also found in such countries like Zambia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Russia. Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Brazil are especially famous for their emeralds. In Zambia, they mine perfect stones of deep green coloring; they are darker than the Colombian ones and a have a slight blue hue. The famous Zandawana mine in Zimbabwe produces small but very clear emeralds of rich green coloring with delicate yellow-green chatoyment. As for the wonderful Brazilian emeralds, they are mine nearly as many as their neighbors from Colombia. Due to the findings in Africa and Brazil, the emerald market is now a lot richer in stones of different quality than it has been before—much to the enjoyment of emerald lovers throughout the world.

Strange as it may seem, all good gemstones happen to be mined in regions with unstable economic or political situations. Emerald deposits are situated in the most troublesome countries of the world: Colombia and Zambia, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Moreover, the deposits are situated in the most dangerous areas—it still amazes people how such a beautiful stone can come out of such hostility.

Colombian Peculiarities

The most important region for the emerald business is situated in Colombia. But the social customs there are very unique, and one can understand this inimitable lifestyle only when you visit.

izumrud_13 Tutti-frutti headed by an emeraldTutti-frutti headed by an emerald

When I arrived at the airport, Don Gilberto, the main partner of the Pitta deposit and a shareholder of Muzo, was waiting for me and was escorted by two armored SUVs. I came to buy emeralds and this “masquerade” was not intended to surprise me in any way, as the life of esmeralderos (emerald dealers) can be quite harsh. Don Gilberto was an esmeraldero with a reputation and some serious gem experience; he owned a large office on the Avenida Himenez, the main jewelry street of Bogota.

Not only in Bogota, but also in many other cities of the world, people whose business is jewelry are located in a separate district. In Bangkok, it is Silom; in New York, it is the crossing of 6th Avenue and 47th Stree; in Hong Kong, it is Canton Road; in London, it is the Hutton Gardens; in Tel Aviv, it is Ramat-Gan; and in Geneva, it is the district of Rue du Rhone. Moreover, Hong Kong, Geneva, Antwerpen, and Bangkok are known above all as the international centers of jewelry industry. Nevertheless, people carrying gemstones worth hundreds of thousands dollars in their pockets walk freely in these districts.

But the situation in Colombia is totally different. The clients from abroad who arrived with the intention of buying large stones, and in bulk, are a completely different story. For three days, we have been partying under the gaze of the guards, accompanied by Don Gilberto and Don Cheppe (the junior partner of the Muzo deposit), whose neat, raven-black hair with a careful part that shone like burnished steel. We were able to catch only a glimpse of Don Victor Caranz, the main partner of Muzo. Don Victor had his own army, equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, ready to go under his command.

We went to bars and restaurants, drank tequila and smoked cigars–and not a single word was uttered about business! Just small talk—in very bad English, to boot. I was being carefully studied, but the same was true for them, as I was also observing my hosts. During one of the parties, Don Gilberto leant awkwardly, and the elastic belt holding his belly tight fell to one side. Suddenly, his massive stomach began to slowly drop on the table. My chin just about hit the floor. The host, though slightly embarrassed, reset everything, shifting the belt back into place, and continued with the conversation. Later, he explained that after several knife and bullet wounds, his abdominal muscles are a bit damaged. Such is the life of an esmeraldero, I concluded.

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On my fourth day in Colombia, I was shown the yearly output: about 500 cut stones of perfect quality, each weighing over five carats. I chose 15 stones weighing from six to 20 carats. They asked $2 million, but I offered $500,000. Apart from that, they showed me a wonderful 100-carat emerald, but its price was really a bit too much: $1.5 million. So I had to stay with these hospitable people for three more days, setting up the price according to the same model: bars, restaurants, and sprawling estates. Eventually, we agreed on $650,000. A good thing, considering my liver was now worse for the wear.

Later, I visited one of the oldest emerald deposits in the world: Muzo, which also produces the most beautiful gemstones. What an unforgettable experience! Only the fact that I arrived with the owner of the mine made this trip possible. We started with a helicopter ride in a six-seater Bell, which flew very low. I sat next to the pilot and enjoyed the jungles: the green, wild, and astonishingly beautiful wonder of this country.

We landed among the mines. The village of Muzo, with 6500 inhabitants, was above us on the slope of the mountain. I came to the house of Jimmy, a big boss surrounded by—of course--bodyguards. He is the co-owner of a vein that is the extension of the Porto-Arturo mine, the one producing the best emeralds in the world. On the other slope of the mountain, there are the mines of La Cuna and La Pitta.

We put on rubber boots and helmets and went down into the mine. First, we descended to 70 meters in an open cradle supported by a rusted rope. It was hot, damp, and stifling. I started to perspire in no time. We followed along a low-ceilinged tunnel for about 1 kilometer to another elevator that brought us 60 meters farther down. Yet another long tunnel, then a narrow ladder leading down to what seemed like Hell itself. Jimmy asked whether I could keep going, and I said, “No problem.” I had to put on a pair of special gloves to prevent slipping on the metallic surface. It seemed very much like mountain climbing, but harder. The ladder was only 20 meters long but to me it seemed without end. There were again narrow tunnels with low ceilings, this time filled with water up to the ankles. Jimmy explained that they streamed the river here in order to provide the mine with oxygen. Indeed, it felt very much like in a sauna.

The plastic ventilation tubes ran down the right wall, but I could not feel any fresh air. The left wall had two old wires with dim lamps every 50 meters. The tunnel was narrow, so I had to squeeze around each miner. Some miners we met on our way had no shirts on, and their skin was all black. I constantly hit my head against the horsts of rock on the ceiling. I was very glad to have put on the helmet; without it I could have gotten seriously injured more than a few times.

Typical emerald cutTypical emerald cut izumrud_20 An emerald heart. 25 ctAn emerald heart. 25 ct

Finally, we got to the “pocket” (druse) that they were actually mining. Thankfully, I know something not only about the mountain climbing but also about diving: the lack of oxygen reminded me that when scuba diving, you must breathe very deeply to get any air from the breathing apparatus. Jimmy asked if I wanted to work with the pick hammer for a bit, and he showed me how. I was really impressed with this man, who wore a suit and a necktie in Bogot? and seemed just as at home in the mine! Then I found out he was born in the nearby village and spent all his life in the mines.

The pick hammer was very heavy, and after a couple of minutes, I felt absolutely exhausted, while Jimmy continued drilling without any visual strain for about 10 minutes. We did not see any green stones, though: emeralds are rare, and it is very difficult to mine a really good stone. Therefore, one must be tough to mine underground all day long.

Finally, we started on our way back. I was wet all over, with clammy sweat getting in my eyes. My God, what a wonderful feeling it was to see the daylight and a blue sky again! Above, towels and bottles of cool spring water were waiting for us. I drained mine in one gulp–never had water tasted so delicious! Then Jimmy introduced me to his cousin, the manager of the mine, and they showed me where they clean the stones. The crystals are put in a leather bag that is subsequently sealed and sent to Bogot?.

We took a shower in Jimmy's house and then had dinner. But there was no time to rest, because we had to leave for the city. Before we set a course for Bogot?, we flew around the deposit one more time, with Jimmy pointing out and naming all the foothills. He that the first emeralds appeared only recently, and before that, it was two years of unsuccessful drilling.

After I visited the mine, my ideas about emeralds changed greatly. Whatever price I pay, it can never be too much. Unlike many other gemstones, the emeralds are not mined industrially – everything is done by hand. No open quarries, no bull-dozers, no dynamite; only a slow, inch-by-inch drilling under 150 meters of rock. Jimmy was really smart when he decided to take me to the mine. Now, my opinion of a 30-carat stone that I have been offered before, as well as a 22-carat super crystal found in this mine really changed! I simply could not leave Bogot? without these two wonderful “Colombians.”

Fate of Russian Emerald

Russia has its own emeralds, too. They were mined in the Ural Mountains in vicinity of Yekaterinburg. The first stones were found in December 1830 by a local peasant Maksim Kozhevnikov, who spotted them in the roots of a tree torn out by a storm. The following month, on the order of Yakov Kokovin, the commander of the Yekaterinburg cutting plant, the mining operations started, and soon the mine that received the name Stretenskiy was launched. Within seven years, all the known deposits have been discovered. For his discovery of emeralds Kozhevnikov received a reward,200 rubles, while Kokovin was decorated with the Order of St.Vladimir Fourth Class.

Natural crystals featured in a necklaceNatural crystals featured in a necklace izumrud_22

Their fate was, though, not as happy as one may think. Maksim Kozhevnikov died aged 66 as a result of tuberculosis that he caught in the emerald mines; he was buried in 1865 in Beloyarskoye village, and unfortunately, his grave was not preserved.

Yakov Kokovin was born in 1784 in a family of a bondsman. He worked hard and used all his talent to receive an education and, eventually, the rank of gentleman. He studied “the art of sculpture” in St. Petersburg, in the famous Academy of Arts, where he received two silver medals and one gold medal. In 1814, he became a foreman at the Gornoschitskiy marble plant, and from 1828 to 1835 he was in charge of the Imperial lapidary plant in Yekaterinburg.

During those years, Kokovin also prospected and mined emeralds at the Stretenskiy mine.  The findings were fantastic: a 101-carat pear-shaped crystal (presented to the Empress); a druse of emeralds with an estimated price of 100,000 rubles (it was sent to Berlin, to Alexander von Humboldt); a famous “Crystal of Kochubei” weighing 2,226 g (preserved in the Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow). Everything would be fine if not for another famous top-quality emerald weighing one pound, which disappeared mysteriously. For this, Yakov Kokovin paid with his honor and, eventually, his life.

Beryls are the main source of beryllium. This wonderful metal is temperature-resistant, stable, tough, and light. If only it were not that rare, it could easily substitute titanium and aluminum, making airplanes twice as light; however, it is used mainly in the alloys. Still, the main consumer of beryllium is the atomic industry, because it is the most effective neutron moderator that makes it possible to use it in the nuclear reactors, especially small ones, such as those installed in the submarines.

An offer for a Russian customerAn offer for a Russian customer A typical emerald from a Russian jewelry shopA typical emerald from a Russian jewelry shop

Today, the famous mines are half-waterlogged and a harsh land war is going on. In 1993, the Malyshev mine, where the majority of emeralds have been mined, was divided into Malyshev mining department (5 percent of production) and the Emerald Mines of the Urals JSC (95%). Thus, the Russian market of emeralds died a dismal deathm and the average price of Russian emeralds on the international market fell as low as $150 per carat. In 1995, both companies stopped production, In 1997, the Russian-Irish company Zelen-Kamen appeared, but it did not help. Now the stones are mined in pitiful quantities. Since 2007, a Canadian company has been trying to work there, and we will continue to see others try their luck there.

The main problem is, though, that the mining itself at the Malyshev mine is not easy. For example, too much effort is spent on constant dewatering of the mines, which are under permanent threat of flooding. The emeralds are deep under the surface, so one has to descend to 100 or even 600 m. Only there the emerald druses, the rock containing precious stones, can be found. The locals call them just the “body.” So it is quite understandable that this pit hardly has any chance to become a profitable emerald mine one day. It may still exist as the source of raw material supplying the successors of the first nuclear minister with what they need for their industry. Nevertheless, the current owners of the mine are enthusiastic about the prospects of the mine: they believe they are only getting to the horizons containing the richest “bodies.”

Cutting and Price

An emerald is a hard stone that preserves itself from scratches and damages. Nevertheless, it is quite breakable and has lots of cracks that make it particularly sensitive to the cutting, setting, and cleaning processes. Working with emeralds require a lot of experience. A special type of cut, the emerald cut, was developed particularly for this gemstone. The rectangular or square design with blunted corners gives the stone its particular beauty and, at the same time, preserves it from damage. Still, other types of cuts are also used. The crystals featuring inclusions and cracks are given a cabochon cut, also used for the so-called “emerald pearls” that are so admired in India.

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The correct cut, in combination with good symmetry and shine, are able to enhance and expose the beauty of color, while a bad cut is able to spoil the gemstone and lower its price. An experienced cutter always tries to reach the best proportions in order to minimize the influence of inclusions and maximize the color of the gem. Unfortunately, the carats are the first to suffer during the cutting process. But the cutter would be foolish to give an emerald an ideal shape in order to preserve the weight. This is because that, in most cases, the deepest color is concentrated near the edges and the surface of the crystal. Therefore, do not pay much attention to the different irregularities on the surface of the cut stone, because if you polish them off, the color, which is truly what gives the emerald its value, will disappear.  

From the time of the Ancient Egyptians comes the method of enhancing the clarity and transparency of emeralds. Papyri written in the year 4000 BC tell us how the stones were “cured” by means of different oils that were often colored with the green herbal extracts. As time went on, techniques greatly improved. Still, almost all emeralds on the market today contain to a greater or lesser degree a mixture of oils or synthetic counterparts. Oil fills in the cracks and fissures, making the crystal more transparent and considerably enriching its color. Twenty years ago, there appeared special equipment that put the lubricants into the stone under vacuum and high temperature. It is strictly forbidden to clean such stones with ultrasound, as this technique removes everything from the pores and cracks, making the stone opaque. Just the same, if you are going to touch or somehow come in contact with any chemical cleaning agents, you should first remove all emerald rings from your fingers.

The demand for this wonderful and ultimately beautiful stone is so incredibly high, it is no wonder that there are so many imitations and synthetic emeralds on the market. So how can we protect ourselves from those fakes? Rule # 1 – buy your stones only from trusted sellers. If you buy a large emerald, make sure it has an appropriate certificate of a gemological laboratory.

izumrud_31 Distribution of color along the perimeter of a crystal of emeraldDistribution of color along the perimeter of a crystal of emerald izumrud_29

Moh’s hardness of emerald is 7.5 to 8, with a density from 2.6 to 2.8 g/cm3. In other words, an emerald is a lot softer than a diamond or corundum, in addition to the fact that a beryl crystal is often covered with cracks. This is why you should treat your emerald jewelry with special care, and especially not to put it in the same box with the sapphires, rubies, and diamonds, which may seriously damage the emerald. Consider an emerald as like a sensitive person–delicate and easily hurt.

How is the price of an emerald defined? First, let us say: just like all other colored gemstones, emerald is a market item; it has no De Beers backing it with its monopolized prices. That is the reason that the price of emeralds is defined based on the complexity of the most important factors: the quality of color, weight in carats, clarity, quantity of lubricants or other enhancing substances, quality and symmetry of cut, and current market conditions.

In general, we might say that an emerald is cheaper than a ruby, but a lot more expensive than a blue sapphire. The price for a quality stone weighing around 8 carats starts at $8,000 per carat and grows subsequently according to the weight of the crystal. This is actually the borderline from where the really exclusive gemstones start, providing that they have a good coloring and minimum inclusions. Nowadays, large, high-quality emeralds are quite rare, and their price can be even higher than that of a diamond of the same weight, which only proves emeralds' growing popularity. To give you an example, let us cite the following emerald sales:

$2,879,800 – the price of an emerald necklace Harcourt (162.19 carats), London, 1989.

$1,589,000 – the price of one emerald (16,38 carats) set in a brilliant brooch, Geneva, 1992.

$1,149,850 – the highest price for a rectangular-cut emerald (10.01 carats) set in a ring ($113,734 per carat), Hong Kong, 2000.

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Finally, a last piece of advice: If you buy a separate stone, large stones are preferable as they show the most color play. Of course, there are many beautiful and valuable pieces of jewelry featuring smaller stones, but one should remember that emeralds start to play only when, like other precious stones, they are of a particular size.

The size of your emerald, however, depends on your funds and personal taste. The price for a crystal varies greatly depending on a number of factors. Emeralds weighing from 8 to 25 carats are offered by dealers for $10,000 to $25,000 per carat. Thus, a 10-carat emerald of decent quality may easily cost up to $125,000--but it is really worth it! The prices of the third-party dealers, as well as on the Internet or the jewelry boutiques, are much higher.