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Colombian emerald: one of the most popular gemstones in antique jewelry

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Discover the characteristics, history and legends of the Colombian emerald, a gemstone that has been coveted for centuries.

Colombian emerald is considered one of the most beautiful and valuable gems in the world. This translucent green stone is mined from the mountains of Colombia, in the Andes, and is prized for its intense color and distinctive luster. In this article, we will explore the history and characteristics of Colombian emerald.

Today, Colombian emeralds are mined in several regions of Colombia, including Muzo, Chivor and Coscuez. Muzo emeralds are considered the most prestigious because of their deep emerald green color and natural brilliance. Chivor emeralds are known for their intense green color with blue highlights, while Coscuez emeralds are lighter with a blue tint.

The history of the Colombian emerald

The history of Colombian emerald dates back more than 500 years, when the indigenous peoples of the Colombian Andes region began to mine and use this precious stone to create jewelry and ornaments. The Spanish conquistadors quickly learned of this local wealth and began mining emeralds in 1558, exporting a large quantity of stones to Europe.

However, it was not until much later, in the 19th century, that the mines in Muzo, Colombia, began to be exploited for their gold and platinum, leaving the emeralds behind. It wasn't until the early 20th century that miners, jewelers and collectors began to recognize the value of emerald, making Colombia the world's leading emerald producer. Today, the unique beauty and exceptional quality of Colombian emerald make it a highly coveted gemstone worldwide.

The characteristics of the Colombian emerald

The Colombian emerald is a highly prized jewel because of its unique beauty and rarity. But how is this gemstone formed?

Colombian emeralds are formed in rocks called "pegmatites". These rocks are created from magma, which is a kind of molten rock. Pegmatites are formed under very specific conditions of temperature and pressure, and in the presence of certain minerals such as beryl, aluminum and silicon.

The mountains of the Colombian Andes were created about 65 million years ago, when the South American tectonic plate began to move westward. This is when the pegmatites began to form and slowly cool. Emerald crystals began to form when a liquid rich in minerals such as beryl, aluminum and silicon began to penetrate the cracks in the pegmatites.

The process of forming emerald crystals can take millions of years. It begins when the mineral-rich liquid starts to cool and crystallize, forming small crystals. Over time, these crystals slowly grow, incorporating other minerals and becoming larger and larger. The larger the emerald crystal, the longer it took to form.

The color of the emerald of Colombia

Colombian emerald is rare and expensive because of the rarity of the pegmatites that contain it, as well as the formation process that can take millions of years. In addition, Colombian emerald is particularly prized for its intense green color.

Indeed, color is one of the most important factors when it comes to evaluating the quality of a Colombian emerald. It is a green colored gemstone, which takes its name from the ancient Greek "smaragdos".

Its color is caused by the presence of chromium, vanadium and iron in the crystals. Colombian emerald is often described as having a grass green color, which can vary in intensity and saturation. The highest quality stones have an intense green color, with few or no inclusions. Inclusions are flaws or impurities within the stone, which can affect its quality and value.

The quality of Colombian emerald depends on the region where it was mined. Emeralds from the Muzo region are generally darker and have more visible inclusions, while emeralds from the Chivor region have a lighter color and are more transparent. Emeralds from the Coscuez region have a unique blue hue in addition to green.

Colombian emeralds are often cut in a pear or oval shape to maximize their brilliance and luster. Jewelers often use diamonds to enhance the emerald, creating elegant and sophisticated designs.

In addition to their beauty, Colombian emeralds also have symbolic significance. They are considered healing and protective stones, and have been used to treat various medical conditions. Emeralds are also associated with love, loyalty and wisdom.

The legends of the emerald of Colombia

The Colombian emerald is associated with many legends and popular beliefs. In addition to their beauty, Colombian emeralds also have symbolic significance. They are considered to be stones of healing and protection, and have been used to treat various medical conditions. Indeed, pre-Columbian civilizations believed that emeralds had powers of healing and immortality. Some believed that the Colombian emerald was the most powerful gemstone in the world, while others believed that the mystical properties of the gemstone could be amplified when worn in combination with other stones. Emeralds are also associated with love, loyalty and wisdom.

In conclusion, the Colombian emerald is a gemstone that has fascinated jewelry lovers for centuries. Its intense green color, rarity and history make it one of the most coveted stones in the world. The specific geological conditions in which it forms in the pegmatites of the Colombian Andes are remarkable, and the process of forming emerald crystals can take millions of years. Despite its rarity, Colombian emerald remains accessible to collectors and lovers of fine jewelry, and its beauty continues to fascinate and inspire jewelers.

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