Guide to Buying Emeralds - Brilliant Earth
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Guide to Buying Emeralds

About Emeralds

Emeralds are the gems of royalty, romance and intrigue. Ranging in color from Bluish Green to Greenish-Blue with a clear depth of color that few gems command, emeralds are also the most well known and highly prized of green gemstones. Unlike diamonds, whose apparent clarity must be evaluated using a 10x magnification, emerald clarity is graded with the naked eye. At an 8, they place highly on the Moh's scale of hardness, but their toughness and durability are only considered fair to good, due to the presence of many small and not-so-small internal characteristics. These inclusions are so accepted that some emeralds are actually valued more highly if their internal fractures create a pleasing pattern when viewed under a microscope. This is called jardin, a French term for garden, and every emerald's is unique.

Emerald Treatment

In order to minimize the appearance of these internal fractures, it has become industry standard to “oil” treat the fractures in emeralds. This is a semi-permanent treatment that involves immersing the emerald in cedar oil until the fractures have been filled and obscured. The material used must have similar optical properties to the emerald itself so that light entering the gem is not distorted or interrupted and the gem's natural color is maintained. This is common practice within the industry.

Newer forms of emerald treatment include resins, glass, and plastic polymers that are melted into the gem. These are typically used for emeralds with extreme durability issues, as the fillers also work as binding agents. This is not industry standard, and must be disclosed during the time of sale. Some jewelers are also using green tinted oils and polymers. This is not accepted in the industry either. Brilliant Earth does not carry gems that have been treated with colored oils, or with synthetic fillers.

Emerald Care

Emeralds must be handled more gently because of their brittleness, and cleaning techniques that involve chemicals, high heat or steam are not advised, as they can cause the gem to break or the oil filler to dissipate. Special care should be taken when wearing emerald jewelry given emeralds are prone to fracture if roughly handled. Brilliant Earth's emeralds are oil treated unless otherwise specified.