Colombia is known for its coffee, flowers, soccer and of course our emeralds. If you are looking for an exclusive souvenir of your visit to our country Emeralds are your best choice.
We have intervie ...
wed Algis Morales to better guide you in choosing an emerald. Algis and his family have been in the emerald industry for over 40 years in the mining, cutting and polishing, and jewelry industry. They have helped countless friends and loyal customers find that special Colombian emerald for their loved ones, or helped them find beautiful emerald specimens for their rock collections. Since 2001 they have an online presence www.emeraldbury.com.
What sets Colombian emeralds apart?
Colombian emeralds are considered to be the yardstick by which all other emeralds are measured up against. Colombian emeralds have always been considered to have the most desired green color. What differentiates Colombian emeralds from emeralds from other locations around the world like Brazil, Pakistan, Zambia, etc, is that Colombian emeralds are formed in sedimentary rock formations whereas emeralds from other parts in the world are formed in metamorphic formations over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. What this basically means is that during the thousands of years of geological formation, different conditions of extreme temperatures and pressure had to take place for these emeralds to come about. The deep green color that Colombian emeralds are known for is due to traces of chromium in their molecular crystal structure. That is why Colombian emeralds seem to have a "green on top of green" or "green on top of yellow or blue" color. Emeralds from other localities have a different green color because their coloration is due to traces of iron and vanadium, so their green seems to be a "green on top of gray" or "green on top of brown". Even within Colombia you can also find emeralds that are seemingly different in tone. Some emeralds can also have a slightly bluish undertone which is also desirable, but in being able to see a wide assortment of stones you can appreciate the unique beauty of our Colombian emeralds.
Where are the emeralds mined?
Colombia has several main areas where emeralds are mined. The main areas are comprised of Muzo, Quipama, Coscuez, Penas Blancas, Cunas, and Chivor, roughly about 100 miles away from Bogota.
What’s the process of mining?
The process of emerald mining is highly labor intensive. For many years these mines were quarried using the open pit method which literally sliced mountains layer by layer like an onion, with bulldozers and other heavy machinery. However, this caused much environmental damage and quite a great number of productive emerald veins were buried and lost by the erosion caused by this system. Today the mining is done strictly by drilling vertical shafts several hundred feet down into the ground, and then drilling horizontally branching tunnels in search of emerald bearing veins and pockets. The process is quite expensive but it is much safer and environmentally friendly than the way emeralds were mined in the past.
Where would you recommend people buy emeralds?
If you are looking to buy emeralds the best thing to do is ask someone you know if they can refer you to a reputable emerald dealer or jeweler. If not, take some time to learn about emeralds, (it's pretty fun and not that difficult as you can see), and make a trip to downtown Bogota to check out the emerald market for yourself. The emerald district in Bogota is on Avenida Jimenez and Carrera 7, in the heart of downtown Bogota. Ask several dealers and jewelers there to show you goods they have. You can always compare prices, compare the quality of stones they sell, and at the same time you'll make a few new good friends. The emerald market in Bogota shouldn't intimidate you at all if you're cautious and use common sense. Just like every other business the emerald market is a market built on people, relationships, and trust. I promise you that you'll love it, and you'll see how much you enjoy the experience!
How about on-line?
Buying emeralds online is an option of last resort unless you know and trust the person that is selling you the stone and if he or she has sold you emeralds in the past. When it comes to emeralds the best thing is to be able to see the emeralds in person because no matter how well photographed the emeralds are they can always be photo-shopped or altered. It is very difficult to capture an emerald's color, sparkle, and liveliness if you're not looking at it in person. Choosing a stone is a very objective and personal experience.
How can you tell real stones from fake?
Just like with diamonds, it is best to have someone who is reputable to guide you in the ins and outs of gemstones. To the untrained eye it can be very easy to be misled by the authenticity of an emerald, but someone who has seen thousands upon thousands of stones it is easy to tell the difference between a real emerald and a fake/simulant stone. Usually you can tell that a stone is not the real thing by the color of the emerald, the absence of inclusions, and the "feel" of it. This "feel" comes from experience and many years of looking at stones and setting them in jewelry.
What are the characteristics buyers should look for when purchasing an emerald?
Many people have heard about the 4 C's when it comes to looking for a diamond. The 4 C's are: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat weight. According to these characteristics in a diamond, the diamond industry goes by fixed prices that you can find in what is called the Rapaport Sheet (or Rap Sheet), which is basically the international benchmark by which diamond dealers establish their prices. However, when it comes to Colombian emeralds, and pretty much all other colored stones, they do not have this same stone grading system as diamonds because there are so many other characteristics in emeralds that simply cannot be established by the 4 C's, namely because when it comes to emeralds you have more than 600 tones of green with different levels of saturation and hues, and simply by this characteristic it's difficult to gauge an emerald's value. Because of this there really aren't any fixed prices when it comes to emerald. But don't let this confuse you nor let your interest fade. Emeralds are some of the most beautiful and fine gemstones, and with just a little education and eye training you can become quite good at telling the difference between average stones, commercial quality stones, and the really fine quality emeralds that Colombia is so well known for. Looking at emeralds is fun!
Color: When it comes to emeralds, the first and most important factor you want to look for is a deep grassy green color. The darker and deeper the color, the higher price the stone will command.
Clarity: Along with a deep green color, you also want the stone to have good clarity. In other words, the quality of the crystal should be as flawless as possible, or what we call "eye clean" (by simply looking at the emerald with the naked eye). Emeralds during their formation through hundreds of thousands of years develop growth features that some people call "flaws", but are known by gemologists as "inclusions". These inclusions are trapped gas bubbles in the crystal lattices of the emerald, other crystals that have been caught in the lattices during the formation of the emerald, or tiny stress fractures that have occurred through the growth and formation of the emerald through it's geological history.