History of Colombian Emeralds
Colombian emeralds have a long history leading up to their popularity today. Hailing, of course, from what is today the country of Colombia, they were an essential resource for indigenous peoples in the region for centuries. The Muzo mine and the Chivor emerald mines located in the central part of the country were in use as early as 500 AD, and the beautiful gemstones they produced were believed to have mystical properties.
When Spanish conquistadors infiltrated Colombia, they were infatuated with the vibrant green gem, and Colombian stone’s popularity soon spread across Europe. During this period, emeralds were also believed to have healing qualities and the capability to cure various ailments, adding further value to these precious stones. Beloved by royalty and the incredibly wealthy, Colombian emeralds decorated the finest jewelry creations of the period and were desired by Spain’s many trading partners, including Turkey, India and Persia. From an emerald necklace to rings and earrings, this precious stone was a symbol of wealth and royalty. Many pieces of antique jewelry feature Colombian emeralds, as these gemstones have been known for centuries to be the best quality.
Characteristics of Colombian EmeraldsEmeralds are found in various locations around the world, including Madagascar, Israel, Russia, India, Zambia and Brazil. Each locale is known for different traits typically found in their emeralds, and gemologists are able to use different techniques to identify a natural emerald’s place of origin, such as examining the particular percentages of the elements chromium, vanadium and iron present, which, as discussed previously, impacts emerald stone’s green color. Of all the countries where these stones can be found, Colombia, above all, is renowned for the beauty and richness of their emeralds and is historically the location of some of the most important emeralds ever discovered.
One of the defining characteristics of Colombian emeralds is their unique color. Free from the bluish tinges seen in other emeralds, Colombian emeralds are perfectly green. Colombian emeralds tend to have more trace amounts of chromium (called an inclusion) in relation to other emeralds, which typically gives them the pure, bright, saturated green so beloved in these timeless gemstones. Their impressive color stands out, as does their intense saturation. With their beautiful depth of color, Colombian emeralds can sometimes appear to glow. Colombian emeralds are also known for their exceptional clarity. Although the majority of emeralds are treated with oil, the best quality Colombian emeralds have only minor inclusions and are completely untreated. All of these characteristics combined are part of the reason Colombian emeralds have maintained their popularity over the centuries, as there truly is an exceptional quality to these stones that supports their claim to fame. Although other gemstone mines can produce high-quality emeralds, Colombian mines are among the most highly respected by high fashion jewelry collectors around the world.
How are Colombian Emeralds Treated?
Albeit highly rare, untreated emeralds of exceptional color, clarity and overall quality do exist. Emeralds that possess a natural green radiance and are free from oiling are considered the highest quality and can command much higher prices because of their rarity and beauty. The stunning no oil emerald seen above is an example of the incredible color and clarity possible through natural means alone.
Jewelry With Colombian EmeraldsJewelers who use Colombian emeralds are careful to emphasize the unique green color of these amazing gemstones through the use of different metals and accent gemstones.
If you’re ready to add a piece of exceptional natural emerald jewelry to your collection, M.S. Rau offers a unique selection of fine jewelry perfect for any occasion.
And the knowledge behind gemstones doesn’t have to end there. Learn about gems for good luck or read about the history of rubies to become the expert on all things gemstones.