Posts Tagged ‘emeralds’

A story

I would like to share a story that is very special to me, my wife, and our store.  Several years ago a gentleman in his early fifties came into the store by himself.  He had been in several times before with his wife and they loved our settings and emerald selection.

He started a conversation by saying, “Since my wife and I visited your store we became very interested in emeralds.  Every time we have the opportunity to check other jewelry stores for these gems we do it.”  He also mentioned that gems he found in different places were somehow different from ours.  “Most of the emeralds out there don’t have this kind of green.  They look kind of cloudy inside.  In most of them it is very difficult to see that green fire that I can see in yours.”  I was very proud and flattered when he told me how his wife always had our store in mind and that she had enjoyed learning about the stones when she visited here.

The man was on a mission to choose a very special gift for his wife.  I asked about the special occasion to see if it would help me choose pieces for him to consider but he was a little evasive.  I helped him the best I could and we narrowed his choices to three rings.  All three were gorgeous pieces with beautiful emeralds and tasteful settings.  After a while I could see he had a favorite but there was a huge battle within him and it was price related.  I gave him some other options but he kept coming back to his favorite and his stress was building.  The more he thought about it, the more stressed he became and soon he became silent, just staring at nothing at all.

So there we stood in silence for a couple of minutes. He was lost in his own thoughts and I didn’t dare interrupt. Then, gradually, his shoulders relaxed, his face changed, and he broke into a big smile.  More to himself than to me he said, “…she will live to enjoy it…”, and confidently pointed to his favorite ring.

He began to tell me that a few months prior his wife had been diagnosed with cancer.  He wanted to give her a reason to be happy every day, to distract her from treatments, and to give her another reason to feel beautiful.  I was speechless for a moment, overcome by the situation, and ended up mumbling something about how honored I was that he picked our store for such a noble purpose.

The next day I got to work early and still hadn’t opened for business.  I heard someone knocking out front and when I went to look, guess who I saw.  I saw the happiest, most radiant lady, one hand waving to show me her new ring and the other hand clasped tightly around husband’s arm.  They both told me how happy the ring made her but the words didn’t really matter.  I just knew.  I just knew.

I think of this story often.  It pops into my head when I get carried away explaining clarity, color, settings, and all those things that make emeralds precious to me.  I am reminded that the technical aspects of any emerald and its price tag are not as important as the reasons my customer may have for buying it. The motive may be far beyond purchasing the perfect stone. The sentiment behind the purchase makes every emerald unforgettable and priceless.

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Which emerald is a good emerald? CLARITY

CLARITY

Clarity in emeralds speaks about what the gem looks like on the inside and this is what makes an emerald a different gem than any other.  Most emeralds present inclusions that are small bits of other minerals, gas, liquid, and crystals that the emeralds take on in the crystallization process.  About 99% of all natural emeralds will present inclusions.

Emerald inclusion from Chivor mine

Emerald inclusions from Chivor mine

Inclusions in emeralds are sometimes easy to see without a loupe or microscope.  (A loupe is the one-eyed 10X magnifier that a jeweler wears on a string around his neck to make him look important.)  What in other gems may be considered “flaws” or “imperfections”, in emeralds is totally natural and is one of the things we try to find every time we seem them under a loupe. That is why gemologists, appraisers and experts don’t use the same criteria to judge clarity that they use for other gems like diamonds and topazes.

The Gemological Institute of America, GIA, categorizes three clarity types for colored gems:

Type I gemstones, often virtually inclusion-free, such as aquamarine, citrine, topaz and green tourmaline.

Type II gemstones, usually included, such as ruby, sapphire, garnet, peridot, amethyst and spinel.

Type III gemstones, almost always included, such as emerald and red tourmaline.

So…please don’t be afraid when you see an inclusion in an emerald.   It is a natural part of this gem.

Emerald inclusion from Coscuez mine

Emerald inclusion from Coscuez mine

Inclusions in Colombian emeralds most of the time present elongated and thin shapes with peaked ends.  They are also called “jardin” or gardens because they look like branches and plant roots.  They are like finger prints.  Every single individual presents its own internal “garden” or layout for its inclusions.  Be careful that they don’t look like bubbles, they don’t look arranged in a specific order, and they don’t have a specific spot in the gem.  When you are considering the purchase of an emerald, look at the gem through the jewelers loupe to find the inclusions.  Some of them can rule out your purchase and some can be quite beautiful.

When does clarity affect the price in an emerald?  When it presents too many inclusions, when the gem does not look like a crystal because it is excessively included, and when it is too difficult to see facets on the pavilion, the back part of the emerald.

Inclusions can compromise the durability of a stone and lessen the value when they are close to the surfaces of the gem.  Some inclusions can create fractures in the emerald.  If any of these inclusions are at the surfaces the stone can be broken easily through that part.

In general, the fewer the inclusions, the higher the value of the gem.  Of course, clarity is an important factor in evaluating an emerald but it is not the most relevant.  Inclusions in emeralds are very special.  Expect to find them.  Actually, any emerald without them is immediately suspected as synthetic or an imitation.

In the next blog we will discuss carat weight and size in emeralds.

Which emerald is a good emerald? COLOR

COLOR

This is a question that many people have asked me for years, every day.  It’s the biggest concern for anyone shopping for emeralds or is simply curious about this exotic gem.  Sometimes the explanation is hard to understand because there are not many good examples in the marketplace you can refer to for comparison.  Not all jewelry stores have a nice variety of natural emeralds or have good information about them.

Blog 2If you are not a gemologist, the jargon and methods used to grade quality can be hard to understand.  From my side of the jewelry counter, I may look at as many as 7 different features of each stone.  From your side of the counter you need to know simple but important things to make your own decision. For someone looking for an engagement ring, for the ladies that love gems and want some idea of what to look for, or for someone looking for that special gift that shows how much you care, there are four very important qualities of natural emeralds that you can assess yourself, Color, Clarity, Brilliancy and Size.  We’ll discuss color first.

Color is the biggest factor in establishing the value and quality in natural emeralds.  Color is divided into: Hue, Tonal Grade, and Saturation.  Hue refers to the kind of green color the emerald has.  It gives a name to the color.  Most of the Colombian emeralds present a “bluish green”.

Tonal grade establishes the degree of darkness or lightness of the green color in the gem.  Natural emeralds present a wide variety of green tones:

Very Light,       Light,       Medium Light,       Medium,       Medium Dark,       Very Dark.

Many people consider that a good emerald is dark green.  Most of the literature about these gems will say that a good emerald will have a Tonal grade from Medium to Very Dark.  Be careful because this is only one part of the color feature.  Color is only one of the factors that make the value in these gems.

How vivid and how much power the green has is as important as how dark it is.  That is what we call Saturation in the color.  Saturation is the strength or intensity of the color, ranging from a dull hue (green) to a pure vivid hue.  That’s why you will find emeralds with a dark green color but at the same time they are dull or “flat”, having a dead look that is not exciting and doesn’t speak to you.

P1010535In the same way you will find a light green colored emerald that is full of life, one that catches your eye in the display case and you can not stop looking at it.   That mysterious power grabs your attention and you cannot explain why.  So…light green is not always a bad thing.

When you mix the Tonal grade and Saturation you will have the color in an emerald.  In the market the most expensive emeralds are the ones with high saturation and a Tonal Grade between Medium and Medium Dark.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy a Medium Light with nice saturation or vivid green emerald.  You can’t imagine how many customers I have had who were looking for a dark green emerald “because those are the good ones” –they say- and can’t help falling in love with a Medium Light Tonal Grade emerald with good saturation.

“I haven’t seen emeralds in this kind of green color.”   “I didn’t like emeralds because I though they came just in dark dull green…”  “I can’t tell what it is about this stone that I love.”  “I have seen emeralds but not like these.”  “My mom has an emerald but it doesn’t looks like yours.”

These are the phrases I’m very happy to hear and I hear them all the time. We have a nice selection of emeralds, a selection that you normally won’t see in traditional jewelry stores. Some of them are dark and some light, some with a high saturation some with low saturation…but all of them are beautiful.

Color is only one part of the quality in natural emeralds. I’ll talk about Clarity in my next blog.

 

The Emerald Jeweler

My name is Jose Rodriguez and I am starting this blog to give you a jeweler’s point of view of the business of emeralds.  I can do this because I was born into a family of jewelers in the city of Cali, Colombia, in a South American country blessed with the best emeralds in the world.  Our jewelry shop, Queen Emerald, has been specializing in emeralds and emerald jewelry for more than 40 years.  We have an office in South Florida and our main shop is in downtown Bogota in the middle of the emerald market.

18K gold emerald necklace

18K gold emerald necklace

I became involved in the family business in 2000 when my father and I decided to open a store in the United States.  We have been open for business locally since then and are now committed to open our business to the entire country through our web site, www.QueenEmerald.com.

There is a lot of technical information about emeralds on the internet and in books.  I’ll be glad to give you references or links if you ask, but in this blog I want to give you the point of view of a jeweler, talking about natural emeralds and custom jewelry and telling stories about what it is like to be at the jeweler’s bench or at the other side of the counter.  I will offer a different point of view about our business and our work with this beautiful gem.

In future blogs you will find tips about how to select a nice emerald, what really makes the value of this exotic gem, and you will learn the real dynamic in the emerald market.  I’ll tell some romantic stories involving some of our pieces, tell what happens when your best jeweler breaks a gorgeous emerald, finishing a setting, which you have been anxiously waiting for…

I’ll be more than happy to receive your comments and contributions.  I’ll do my best to have a new blog every two weeks with new information and stories about natural emeralds. You can also contact me through our web page: www.QueenEmerald.com.