As Marilyn Monroe once famously sang, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. And if you’ve ever taken an interest in the jewelry world, chances are you’ve probably found some truth to that statement. However, there are plenty of other beautiful gemstones in the world worth noting: sapphires, rubies, opals, amethysts, the list goes on. But none seem to have gotten the same level of attention quite like emeralds. The deep green stone has become an increasingly popular choice in jewelry designs over the past few seasons. And if you’re on the market for a glittering bauble featuring the gemstone, it’s worth looking into everything you need to know about emeralds as well as its history before you take a deep dive into the jewelry trend.
Like many of its colorful peers, emeralds have carried high prestige in its age-old relationship with royalty. According to Gabbi Harvey, the head of business development at MUZO — which sources emeralds from the Muzo mine in Boyaca, Colombia — the precious stone was known as a symbol of power, as it often represented paradise on earth with the green hue connecting it to nature. With that in mind, emeralds become a top choice in sparkling adornments from everyone including Ancient Mesopotamians and Cleopatra to Spanish conquistadors and Indian royalty.
Though there’s no doubt that the emerald’s long history among royals and nobility contributes to its notability in the jewelry market, one of the biggest factors in its popularity is its color — which, according to Harvey, comes down to how an emerald is cut. “Cut is the property that ties color, clarity, and carat weight together,” she tells The Zoe Report in an email. “A skilled cutter understands the nuance of working with an elongated emerald crystal, and to achieve the best color, the cutter will cut the emerald according to the rough crystal maximizing the size while maintaining the deepest hue, tone, and saturation.”
Beyond the cut, clarity, color, and carat, Harvey emphasizes that anyone shopping for an emerald should understand that most emeralds are treated with an oil or a polymer resin to improve the clarity and occasionally the stability. Emeralds receive treatments because they are a Type 3 gemstone — which means there will be inclusions (aka “jardins”) that tell the story of an emerald’s formation and can help identify its origin. “The different levels of treatments will affect the pricing of the emerald,” Harvey shares. “An emerald with the same appearance but with [fewer] treatments will fetch a higher price.” And while you’re shopping, know one thing: The treatment of a gemstone should always be disclosed.
One of the greatest factors to the emerald's rise in popularity, according to Harvey, is its presence on celebrities. Elizabeth Taylor famously owned a Bulgari necklace featuring 16 octagonal cut Colombian emeralds. However, for the stone's recent popularity, Harvey goes back to a time just over 10 years ago. “What might have begun the trend was Oscar night in 2009. Angelina Jolie stepped onto the red carpet wearing a black Elie Saab gown with a pair of jaw-dropping Colombian cushion and pear shape emerald earrings weighing 115 carats and a 65-carat emerald cocktail ring — both designed by Lorraine Schwartz,” she says. Harvey suggests that stylists and celebrities may opt for emeralds over the classic white diamonds for the vibrance it adds to an ensemble and how the color pops in photos.
Since then, emeralds have become a growing trend in the jewelry industry — and it doesn’t seem to be losing steam any time soon. If you’d like to add some new emerald jewelry to your collection, scroll down to see pieces featuring Muzo emeralds below.