The name emerald comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' via the Old French 'esmeralde and means 'green gemstone'. The Incas and Aztecs of South America, regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone. However, probably the oldest known finds were once made near the Red Sea in Egypt. These gemstone mines, exploited by Egyptian pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C. and later referred to as 'Cleopatra's Mines', had already been exhausted by the time they were rediscovered in the early 19th century.
Written many centuries ago, the Vedas, the holy scriptures of the Indians, say of the precious green gems and their healing properties: 'Emeralds promise good luck ...'; and 'The emerald enhances the well-being ...'. So it was no wonder that the treasure chests of Indian maharajas and maharanis contained wonderful emeralds.
The green of the emerald is the colour of life, the colour of beauty and of constant love. In ancient Rome, green was the colour of Venus, the goddess of beauty and love.
The magnificent green of the emerald is a colour which conveys harmony, love of Nature and elemental joie de vivre. The human eye can never see enough of this unique colour. Pliny commented that green gladdened the eye without tiring it. Green is perceived as fresh and vivid, never as monotonous. And in view of the fact that this colour always changes somewhat between the bright light of day and the artificial light of a lamp, emerald green retains its lively vigour in all its nuances.
Today Emeralds are found across the worlds, in Columbia, Zambia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Russia.
Excellent emerald crystals in a beautiful, deep emerald green and with good transparency come from Zambia. Which has over the last 40 years become one of the world’s most important supplier of fine Emeralds.
Whilst its good hardness protects the emerald to a large extent from scratches, its brittleness and its many fissures can make cutting, setting and cleaning rather difficult. Even for a skilled gem cutter, cutting emeralds presents a special challenge, firstly because of the high value of the raw crystals, and secondly because of the frequent inclusions. However, this does not detract from the cutters' love of this unique gem. Indeed, they have developed a special cut just for this gem: the emerald cut. The clear design of this rectangular or square cut with its bevelled corners brings out the beauty of this valuable gemstone to the full, at the same time protecting it from mechanical strain.
Emeralds are also cut in many other, mainly classical shapes, but if the raw material contains a large number of inclusions, it may often be cut into a gently rounded cabochon, or into a lovely emerald bead.
Unfortunately, because the emerald is not only one of the most beautiful gemstones, but also one of the most valuable, there are innumerable synthetics and imitations. So how can you protect yourself from these 'fakes'? Well, the best way is to buy from a specialist in whom you have confidence who is a member of your local or an International trade body. R.M.Shah Ltd. is not only a member of the National Association of Jewellers, but also a founding member of the International Colored Stone Association. It’s directors regularly attend the important Biannual ICA congress and Managing Director Nilesh Shah is a former ICA Ambassador to the UK.
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