So popular a gemstone have Emeralds been (and for so long) that one of the standard gem stone cuts has even been named after the stone which looks its best when cut in that way.
The mining of Emeralds has been dated back more than 3,000 years, to the time of the Ancient Egyptian Empire. Emerald bracelets, emerald earrings and emerald rings have all been worn and sought after since ancient times.
The "green fire" was so mesmerizing and highly valued in the courts of Europe that the Spanish Conquistadors went on a bloody campaign to find the location of the emerald mines in South America. In 1557, the campaign finally ended with the discovery of the spectacular Muzo and Chivor mines in present day Colombia - still the world's major fine emerald source.
Today Brazil and Zambia produce large quantities of fine emeralds; however, many still consider Colombian emeralds to be of the highest quality. Very fine emeralds, though in small quantity, are also produced in Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Emeralds of Zimbabwean origin are sometimes called "Sandawana" emeralds, which refers to the region where the gemstones are mined.
Emeralds are made of the base mineral beryl, with minute traces of chromium and vanadium giving this gemstone the "green fire." Colombian emeralds are known for their vivid green color, while Brazilian emeralds are known for their variety of color, ranging from light green to fine medium dark green.
It is quite rare to find emeralds of fine quality over one carat in size, emeralds usually contain eye-visible inclusions.
With hardness between 7.5 & 8 on the Moh's scale, emeralds are generally considered somewhat fragile they are hard enough for fine jewelry but should be worn with special care. However, ultrasonic and steam cleaning could damage the stone, causing fractures or removing the oils that are soaked into most emeralds to improve apparent clarity and color. Therefore, only professional jewelers should clean emeralds and the owners should always keep insurance to safeguard their investment.
Fine green color is of the foremost importance for emeralds. You should look for your favorite shade of green when choosing an emerald and any reputable experienced dealer will explain its importance and affect on value. Second to color, brightness or life of the gemstone, which is affected by the cutting and the number of inclusions, is also a very important evaluation factor. Actual clarity and transparency are also important characteristics when evaluating the value of emeralds but a clean stone should be bright and full of life. When evaluating from a face up position, very fine quality emeralds should enable the viewer to see the back facet not over dark or cloudy. Intense medium green emeralds command the highest value. The purity of the green color is crucial to the value and the beauty of the stone, with blue or yellow overtones diminishing its value.