Colombia's Green Gem
Colombia is by far regarded as the greatest source of the world's emeralds.
Colombia's emeralds are the most sought after in the world because of their brilliance and deep color. An emerald with imperfections and trace elements that is a rich green is much more valuable than a perfect emerald in a paler shade. It is incredibly rare to find a emerald deep in color with few imperfections.
Emeralds have been mined in Colombia from antiquity and were prized among the royalty of the Incan Empire. Colombia is considered by gem experts all over the world to be the best place to find emeralds. Other countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Brazil are also known for their rich deposits, but it is Colombia that is said to have the emeralds with the deepest color and clarity. They are also responsible for some 60% of the worlds production of fine emeralds.
Perhaps only once or twice a year will Colombia produce an emerald of the finest quality that has over 2 carats, at which point the value of the emerald exceeds that of a diamond, ruby or sapphire and can go for approximately USD$30,000 per carat. This type of emerald is generally referred to as "gota de aceite" or oil drop.
Emerald Mines in Colombia
There are several mines in Colombia especially for emeralds, and some deposits are not currently being utilized. The most famous locations are Muzo, Coscuez and Chivor. These deposits of emeralds were originally discovered in the 1500s.
The Muzo mines are located approximately 100 km Northeast of Bogatá. It can be visited by taking an unpaved road from Bogata to the foothills of the Eastern mountain range in Colombia.
The Chivor Mine was discovered and then lost for over 200 years.
The color green plays an important role in many cultures and religions, making the emerald valuable throughout history. While the emerald is the traditional gemstone of the zodiac sign Taurus and the birthstone of May its wearers are by no means limited to these groups. The green stone has been long used as a symbol of life and rebirth.
The rock is part of the beryl family, which is colorless, it is only traces of chromium and vanadium which create the brilliant shades of green in the emerald.
Some of the most famous emeralds are called trapiche. These emeralds are only found in Colombia with very few examples coming out of Brazil as well. Inside there is an impurity of carbon that makes a dark black star with six spokes.
The emerald is one of the more brittle precious gemstones, and it is common practice to use oil to increase the brilliance. Emeralds should be removed before the wearer uses cleansing agents. Most jewelers recommend that when buying an emerald as the main stone for a piece that you choose a rock larger than that of your normal diamond, as with most colored gemstones it is the larger rocks that truly show their natural glow.
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