Brilliant green and of vitreous lustre, Emeralds are the rarest gemstones in the world. Nearly twenty times more rare than diamonds, the ‘green sheen’ of emeralds grants it this unique disposition. Officially classified by global gemstone manufacturers among the only four ‘precious’ gemstones (along with diamond, ruby and sapphire), emeralds come from the beryl family. Unlike other gemstones that show variations in colour, emeralds are only ever green, a result of vanadium or chromium traces in their chemical composition.
Emeralds have left their indelible mark on human history, with their earliest presence in 1500 BC Egypt. They were known as Marakatha in Sanskrit (ancient India) and Zamarrud in Persian times. Ancient Egyptians held emeralds in the highest regard, considering it as a symbol of fertility, and evergreen or everlasting life. While the Egyptians buried their mummies with these rich emerald green gemstones to signify immortality, other ancient civilisations such as the Aztec and Incas connected it to ‘green mother nature’ - worshipping these very stones as personification of gods.
In contrast to diamonds, which are hard and consist of no inclusions, emeralds are some of the softest stones known to man. These inclusions or unique patterns in the stone add to their grand aesthetic, and are used to verify its authenticity. Also known as ‘jardin’(garden in French) among jewellery wholesalers and pundits of the trade, emeralds classify as birthstones for May-borns. They are said to empower the heart chakra of the wearer, bringing youthfulness and visor to the wearer.
Among ancient accounts of emerald’s lore, the stone is said to bring foresight to the wearer. Emeralds enhance memory and intuition, with some rare incidents pointing to the ability to foresee the future.
‘As hard as a diamond, as soft as an emerald.’ These stones require exceptional care and delicate handling, and are susceptible to cracks:
1. Oiling: It is highly recommended to treat emeralds with oil to maintain their lustre and protect the structure. While some advice the use of baby oil, emeralds are usually soaked in cedar wood oil. This gets absorbed in cracks or fissures, hiding imperfections and beautifying the sheen. This treatment is reversed if exposed to heat.
2. Handle-with-care: The chemical structure of emeralds cannot withstand strain, and cracks when forcefully collided with hard surfaces. It is highly advisable to encase them in protective storage, and avoid falls or collisions.