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#1

Hi all,

I recently received a request from a very good friend to make a
"right hand ring" for his wife for their 5 yr anniversary. He wants
to use an emerald as a stone, and I have no idea about emeralds.
Since this is a very good friend, I want to try and get him the best
price possible for the stone as well as a very nice quality stone.
I live in Los Angeles and was going to scout out the downtown
jewelry district. As I have no experience purchasing emeralds, I
don’t even have a carat cost estimate and don’t want to get
screwed.

At this point he’s leaning towards a 2ish carat stone, but hasn’t
decided the cut, and might consider a cabachon as she is a little
more casual.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can approach this, or any
emerald contacts that you would recommend?

Thanks everyone, been enjoying all the posts!

-Amery


#2
        I recently received a request from a very good friend to
make a "right hand ring" for his wife for their 5 yr anniversary.
He wants to use an emerald as a stone, and I have no idea about
emeralds. 

Amery, if you really have no idea about emeralds, I would suggest you
pass on this job. Fine emeralds are absolutely one of the most
beautiful but they seldom hold up in a ring for very long.
Besides its’ relative softness (7 1/2 - 8), nearly all emeralds
contain fractures and have been enhanced with oils and/or other
substances to improve their clarity by hiding those fractures. Many
have also been dyed with the oils to improve color. None of these
treatments are considered stable, and repeated cleaning in simple
warm, soapy water can return an inferior emerald to its’ original
unattractive state.

It is possible to buy fine, untreated emeralds, but expertise is
required to sort them out. You’ll also find that they are quite
expensive - many hundreds or more per carat. And it still won’t do
well in a ring unless your friend’s wife can be somehow assured that
her right hand will never smack it against something while wearing
it. Keep in mind that a fractured emerald doesn’t have to hit
something harder than itself to break along a fracture line.

Best,
James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFl


#3

Amery,

One concern should be foremost in purchasing and emerald, treatment
level. It is possible to find two more or less identical stones; one
with a high level of treatment and one with little treatment, they
will look the same but you are comparing apples to oranges. Insist
on a cert at the treatment level you are comfortable with. Most
labs have adopted a uniform seven step scale from faint to
prominent. I don’t deal in anything above “faint” because the stone
is brittle enough without having potentially dangerous cracks.

I believe the emerald chapter from my book: Secrets of The Gem
Trade, The Connoisseur’s Guide is still on the Ganoksin website.


#4

Amery,

Several other people have mentioned some of the problems with
purchasing an emerald for a ring. While I don’t agree with all of
the statements (emerald is HARD - as a beryl it is a Mohs 8, but it
often isn’t very tough), it is certainly true that buying an
emerald for a ring is a very tricky business. I have been
approached several times for emerald rings. After careful
explanations about the expense and some of the dangers there have
been several different solutions:

  1. Purchase an emerald from someone you trust. Pala Gems
    (www.palagems.com) and Richard Homer (www.concavegems.com) both have
    emeralds available on their websites. I’m not associated with either
    party, they are examples of people I trust. Whether you trust them or
    not is up to you.

  2. Use an emerald simulant. Green tourmaline and chrome diopside can
    often be found in examples that to the laymen are indistinguishable
    from emerald. For one client I purchased a fine tourmaline from Gerry
    Galarneau (www.galarneausgems.com); Richard Homer also lists some.
    (For those who have noticed, Yes, I really love GOOD concave
    facetors).

  3. Use a synthetic emerald. No, it’s not created underground by
    Mother Nature, but to some people this is more true than a simulant.
    Synthetic emerald has most of the physical advantages of emerald,
    with few of the physical disadvantages. As with any gemstone, the cut
    is crucial. For one client I purchased the synthetic rough from
    Morion (www.morioncompany.com) and cut the stone myself.

Buying emeralds is more difficult that buying just about any other
gemstone, but it can certainly be worth it. I hope this info and the
other Orchid answers help you create a ring that your friend and
his wife truly love for many years.

Epaul


#5

Hi Amery

Just a comment, I can tell you from experience that emeralds are
very touchy to set. Just a little too much pressure will fracture
them. Good luck


#6

Hi Amery,

I’m no gemologist, but I’ve read enough Orchid posts over the years
that I can’t imagine wearing a natural emerald ring anywhere but to
the opera–and, even then, I wouldn’t want it on my right hand! I’m
wondering, however, if a lab grown emerald might hold up better. I
have a friend who uses Chatham emeralds in her work and they are
quite lovely.

I also wonder if there might be other green stones that could be
substituted. I’ve never seen anything besides the Chatham that has
that particular emerald color, although our gemologists may have. I
wonder how green e.g. sapphires can get…

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments


#7

Dear Mr. Fisher,

       While I don't agree with all of the  statements (emerald is
HARD - as a beryl it is a Mohs 8, but it often  isn't very tough),
it is certainly true that buying an emerald for a  ring is a very
tricky business. 

Since when did emeralds have a mohs hardness of 8? I have cut dozens
of them and they cut like butter compared to Topaz which truly has a
hardness of 8.

Ed Katz, G.G. (in residence)


#8

Hi Lisa,

I’ve been wearing an emerald daily on my left hand for over 34
years! The stone is a little dinged (so am I after 34 years!), but
the colour is still just as lovely as it was in 1971. It is a
Columbian emerald.

Cheers,
Karen
in hot and humid Toronto


#9

Just a little too much pressure?, not so!

I set an Emerald 5.25 Carat P.S. Emerald worth only $8,000.00 at
cost, darned beautiful stone, another setter flatly refused to even
attempt it. These series of pictures appear in my book on setting.

Any stone of any Moh’s scale CAN BE SET…how? if the bezel setting
is following a certain series of procedures and it can be set. Given
the right attitude. If its in your mind its gonna break…it will
break. I never think of that word…I spent over 3/4 hour just
aligning the Pear-shaped to this bezel, so the stone was sitting IN
the setting, not against it!!!

You must check is the stone “rocking” around while in the setting
the stone then it WILL BREAK.Clear off any little collection of gold
make sure all of the bezel surfaces are smooth. If the stone is
nicely sitting IN the bezel frame…go ahead and push over the bezel
by hand… I also once set an end bezel Emerald in 18 kt gold…it
was (hard as nails) and with a Bedeco hammer,even… Nothing broke.
“Sheer luck? no way”.

Any stone can be set if a certain criteria is followed…be aware of
all of the stones physical attributes and pressure points prior to
placing the stone in any setting.

Examine the Emerald all over… Look and follow the “grain” of the
stone, see if there are any blemishes of inclusions, check for any
sharp facet-corners as its meeting the gold. Is the culet properly
exposed and not touching any metal after its in the setting. I would
also widen the bearing cut or bezel groove to accommodate the girdle
for any “soft stone” or irregular polished girdle…for this I would
use a #008 round bur. As for the point of the pear-shape I would
suggest to you all use a #009 round bur to free any metal of
toughing the point. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

How will an Emerald break? not by pressure of setting, not if the
stone is “soft”…but if any gold is squeezing the stones’ Crown
Facets to the Pavilion, or the Culet is meeting any metal
underneath.

If I repeated my observations I meant to, read this again and again.
Any stone CAN BE SET if a certain order is followed.

My book on setting covers all of these salient and important points
@Gerald …Gerry!


#10

To everyone that has responded to the "Emeralds, Emeralds, Emeralds"
post…

Thank you so much for your wealth of I have passed some
of your responses directly to my friend/client. I did explain some
of the problems of using real emeralds to him when he first mentioned
it, but because my expertise in emeralds is very very limited, he
asked me if I wouldn’t mind doing some research. Well, you guys are
my research and I am very grateful that I have such wealth of
and, more importantly, experience at my fingertips!

I am going to suggest peridot or green tourmaline, which I happen to
love, and it can also save him money! Does anyone have any good
sources for large peridot or green tourmaline, or a suggestion as to
why one is better than the other? I prefer green tourmaline, I happen
to really like the colors and am attracted to the depth of the stone.
I will also suggest to him using a lab-grown emerald, if he really
has his heart set on the color of an emerald.

And, to “The Doctor”, I have been looking into enrolling into GIA’s
distance learning gemology course, and have used those excuses, “not
enough time” “not enough money” as excuses before but have sooooo
wanted to do it anyway. I will come up with the money and make the
time, because I agree that it is important and I’m actually really
interested in the subject. I find it fascinating, and it’s about
time I took this step.

Thanks everyone!!!
-Amery


#11
 I'm no gemologist, but I've read enough Orchid posts over the
years that I can't imagine wearing a natural emerald ring anywhere
but to the opera--and, even then, I wouldn't want it on my right
hand! I'm wondering, however, if a lab grown emerald might hold up
better. I have a friend who uses Chatham emeralds in her work and
they are quite lovely. 

Lisa,

Emeralds are indeed sometimes fragile to work with, since internal
flaws and feathers and the like can make them more prone to break.
Equally, they have to be handled carefully in cleaning. But for the
consumer, once they are set without damage, they actually are not
that bad. While still more prone to damage from hitting them against
things like the kitchen sink, beryl (emerald is beryl) is actually
relatively hard, at 8 on the mohs scale. You shouldn’t be too worried
about reasonable wearing practices. If you never take it off, of
course like most gems, it’s gonad get scuffed and dinged, but it’s
risks are more exceptional from a jewelers point of view than a
consumers. Chathams and Gilsons and other hydrothermal synthetic
emeralds are indeed generally more reliable from that fragility point
of view, simply because they generally don’t have the quantity of
inclusions many natural one have. But other than that, they should
wear about the same.

As to other gems that can compete with emerald, if you really want
that intense emerald green, I’d say there are only two that come
close.

One is the best grades of tsavorite garnet. it’s a slightly different
shade of green many times, with a slightly greater amount of yellow
in it, but it can be also an intense and stunning green, and the
higher refractive index of the garnet means a well cut one can often
show more lively optics than most emeralds will. Plus garnet, though
slightly softer than beryl, is often a bit tougher too, and since
most good tsavorites are fairly clean, durability is often improved
over many emeralds. And for similar quality color, the garnet is less
costly.

The other green that comes time mind that’s similar intensity to top
quality emerald is chrome diopside. Wonderful look. And comparatively
inexpensive. Unfortunately, diopside is softer and considerably more
fragile than emerald. You can put it into a ring if you like, but I’d
say it’s better in pieces that don’t take the abuse of a ring.

The finest chrome tourmalines will not likely be mistaken for an
emerald, since the color tends to differ a bit from that of emerald,
and the optics of the stones differ as well. But when fine quality,
they too are amazingly pretty gems as well, and worth your
consideration.

And if you really want a durable green gem, lets not forget the
irradiated green diamonds… Treated yes, and the color is not that
of an emerald. But they can be quite pretty.

Green sapphires too, as you mention, are an option, and have the
advantage of considerable durability, but frankly, most of the ones
you see on the market, while often pretty, simply can’t hold a
candle to the intensity of colors you can find in a fine emerald or
tsavorite. The green sapphires you commonly see tend to low
saturation of color, not the intense green you can get with the
others.

Peter


#12
    Use an emerald simulant. Green tourmaline and chrome diopside
can often be found in examples that to the laymen are
indistinguishable from emerald. 

Diopside has perfect cleavage in two directions, certainly a poor
choice for a ring. Tourmaline can be a fine selection. If a fine
tsavorite Garnet with no parting can be found, it would make an
excellent alternative as well.

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFl


#13
    Since when did emeralds have a mohs hardness of 8? I have cut 
dozens of them and they cut like butter compared to Topaz which
truly  has a hardness of 8. 

I guess the technical answer is since 1812, when Frederick Mohs
choose 10 common minerals to indicate the HARDNESS of stones.
Emerald is a variety of the Beryl species of mineral and as such
has a Mohs hardness of 7.5 to 8. Aquamarine, Heliodor and Morganite
are also gem varieties of Beryl.

How a stone cuts is determined by a variety of factors, only one of
which is the Mohs hardness. The crystal structure and orientation,
cleavage, and toughness are some of the other factors in how a
particular stone, and indeed a particular facet face, handle while
being cut or carved. Emerald has a reputation for being a very sweet
stone to cut, Topaz is known for being tough (see “Gem Cutting” by
John Sinkankas or “Faceting for Amateurs” by Glen and Martha
Vargas). Emerald has almost no noticeable cleavage, while Topaz has
a very strong cleavage plane, the strongest that most facetors ever
have to deal with.

Most of the downsides to dealing with an emerald is not that it WILL
have problems, but that it MAY have problems. Emerald is the only
major gemstone that GIA classifies as “Type III” for clarity,
meaning that all emeralds are expected to have visible inclusions.
These may be stress fractures that can give under the right
circumstances. Add to this the fact that most emeralds are oiled as
a matter of standard practice and that it is easy to subject an
emerald (particularly a ring) to activities that will strip out the
oil such as dishwashing, swimming, ultrasonic cleansing, or even
living in a hot dry climate. Many emeralds have been subjected to
intense abuse for hundreds of years, others may crack or split for
no apparent reason.

I hope I don’t sound like I’m trying to scare people off from
emeralds. With the proper understanding and care they are more
durable that Tanzanite (Fred Ward “Emeralds”), and many people are
shocked to learn first hand just how fragile a diamond can be.

Epaul


#14
    One is the best grades of tsavorite garnet 

I’ve seen some really nice green garnets, including the tsavorite.
I forgot about the green garnets, they might make a nice substitute
for an emerald as well.

Sojourner


#15
    I am going to suggest peridot or green tourmaline, which I
happen to love, and it can also save him money! Does anyone have
any good sources for large peridot or green tourmaline, or a
suggestion as to why one is better than the other? 

Not speaking as a gem expert (which I’m not by a long shot) but as a
lover of colored stones, if I wanted an emerald colored stone I’d
get either the lab-grown Chatham emerald or Chrome Diopside. Peridot
is too yellow and I’ve never seen a really good green tourmaline -
the color may be a good substitute for emerald, I don’t know, I’ve
only seen fairly low quality tourmalines.

Sojourner


#16
 I am going to suggest peridot or green tourmaline, which I happen
to love, and it can also save him money! 

You might also wish to suggest tsavorite garnet as a substitute for
emerald. As for tourmaline, in my opinion green is good but chrome
toumaline is better.

Jerry in Kodiak


#17
  I am going to suggest peridot or green tourmaline, which I
happen to love, and it can also save him money! Does anyone have
any good sources for large peridot or green tourmaline, or a
suggestion as to why one is better than the other?

Green tourmaline presents the same problem as emerald. Peridot is
better, but nowhere close in color.

Tsavarite garnet is a much better stone, color can be closer to
emerald, durability much better than emerald, costs much less than
emerald , brighter than emerald. Most of my customers will switch
from emerald once they know the facts.


#18

Dear Ed,

 Since when did emeralds have a mohs hardness of 8? I have cut
dozens of them and they cut like butter compared to Topaz which
truly has a hardness of 8.

Although Beryls do ‘feel’ softer against the lap than many Topazes,
that may be more=A0a function of their molecular arrangement than Mohs=

hardness, in much the same way that Chrysoberyls, at Mohs 8.5 are
often harder/tougher to polish than Corundums, which we all know rate
a 9. All the same, Beryl does have a Mohs’ hardness of 8, just like
Topaz. …All of which leads me to wonder whether=A0our experiential
differences with cutting these gems have more to do with their
relative=A0orientations than than their innate=A0rankings on the hardn=
ess
scale.

What I mean by that is that we lapidaries are accustomed to
orienting=A0our Topazes with their tables almost exactly perpendicular
to their “C” optical axes – well, just a few degrees off, to reduce
the chances of having to deal with the nightmares of polishing on a
cleavage plane – to maximize color retention fron the rough, because
of the maner in which Topaz’ color zones form, within the crystal.
With Beryls, on the other hand, and especially Emeralds, their
richly-hued A-B Axis “skins” mandate that we orient=A0the table to one
of those axes, instead, unless we want our ‘kelly’ greens to face up
between pastel and seafoam. If you’ve ever faceted either Kunzite or
Kyanite, you’re more than familiar with their differential, axial
hardnesses, right?=A0Well, given that,=A0how big a stretch=A0would it =
be to
extrapolate that the differences between the perceived working
hardnesses of Topaz and Beryl=A0are likely to be due to crystal
orientation on the dop, rather than actual, measurable hardness?
According to the reference books I have, both rate an 8.

Just my $0.02,

Doug
Douglas Turet, G.J.
President,
Turet Design
P.O. Box 242
Avon, MA 02322-0242
(508) 586-5690
@doug


#19

If you look again you will see that Beryl usually has a harness
defined as 7 1/2 to 8 and Topaz is always listed as 8, no more or
less. To me, statistically, that means that Topaz will usually be
harder.

Ed