Emeralds – Part 3

Origin Determinations

Since the onset of concerns regarding diamond origins, research has been conducted to determine if the mining location could be determined for an emerald already in circulation. Traditional research used qualitative guidelines such as an emerald’s color, style and quality of cutting, type of fracture filling, and the anthropological origins of the artifacts bearing the mineral to determine the emerald’s mine location. More recent studies using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy methods have uncovered trace chemical element differences between emeralds; even emeralds mined within close proximity to one another. American gemologist David Cronin and his colleagues have extensively examined the chemical signatures of emeralds resulting from fluid dynamics and subtle precipitation mechanisms, and their research demonstrated the chemical homogeneity of emeralds from the same mining location and the statistical differences that exist between emeralds from different mining locations, including those between the three locations: Muzo, Coscuez, and Chivor, in Colombia, South America.

Synthetic Emerald

Both hydrothermal and flux-growth synthetics have been produced, and a method has been developed for producing an emerald overgrowth on colorless beryl. The first commercially successful emerald synthesis process was that of Carroll Chatham, likely involving a lithium vanadate flux process, as Chatham’s emeralds do not have any water and contain traces of vanadate, molybdenum and vanadium.[ The other large producer of flux emeralds was Pierre Gilson Sr., whose products have been on the market since 1964. Gilson’s emeralds are usually grown on natural colorless beryl seeds, which are coated on both sides. Growth occurs at the rate of 1 mm per month, a typical seven-month growth run produces emerald crystals 7 mm thick.[

Hydrothermal synthetic emeralds have been attributed to IG Farben, Nacken, Tairus, and others, but the first satisfactory commercial product was that of Johann Lechleitner of Innsbruck, Austria, which appeared on the market in the 1960s. These stones were initially sold under the names “Emerita” and “Symeralds”, and they were grown as a thin layer of emerald on top of natural colorless beryl stones. Later, from 1965 to 1970, the Linde Division of Union Carbide produced completely synthetic emeralds by hydrothermal synthesis. According to their patents (attributable to E.M. Flanigen), acidic conditions are essential to prevent the chromium (which is used as the colorant) from precipitating. Also, it is important that the silicon-containing nutrient be kept away from the other ingredients to prevent nucleation and confine growth to the seed crystals. Growth occurs by a diffusion-reaction process, assisted by convection. The largest producer of hydrothermal emeralds today is Tairus, which has succeeded in synthesizing emeralds with chemical composition similar to emeralds in alkaline deposits in Colombia, and whose products are thus known as “Colombian created emeralds” or “Tairus created emeralds”. Luminescence in ultraviolet light is considered a supplementary test when making a natural versus synthetic determination, as many, but not all, natural emeralds are inert to ultraviolet light. Many synthetics are also UV inert.

Synthetic emeralds are often referred to as “created”, as their chemical and gemological composition is the same as their natural counterparts. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has very strict regulations as to what can and what cannot be called a “synthetic” stone. The FTC says: “§ 23.23(c) It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “laboratory-grown”, “laboratory-created”, “[manufacturer name]-created”, or “synthetic” with the name of any natural stone to describe any industry product unless such industry product has essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as the stone named.”

In culture and lore

Emerald is regarded as the traditional birthstone for May as well as the traditional gemstone for the astrological signs of Cancer.[

One of the quainter anecdotes about emeralds was told by the 16th-century historian Brantôme, who referred to the many impressive emeralds the Spanish under Cortez had brought back to Europe from Latin America. On one of Cortez’s most notable emeralds he had the text engraved, Inter Natos Mulierum non sur-rexit mayor (“Among those born of woman there hath not arisen a greater,” Matthew 11:11) which referred to John the Baptist. Brantôme considered engraving such a beautiful and simple product of nature sacrilegious and considered this act the cause for Cortez’s loss of an extremely precious pearl (to which he dedicated a work, A beautiful and incomparable pearl), and even for the death of King Charles IX of France, who died soon afterward.[

The chief deity of one of India’s most famous temple, the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai, is the goddess Meenakshi, whose idol is traditionally thought to be made of emerald.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free

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