The Intriguing Science Behind Emerald Formation

Emerald Formation

Steeped in magic and mysticism, emeralds have stolen the hearts of people around the world and throughout the ages. Made from the beryl mineral, they are among the four gemstones that are globally recognized as 'precious', which is quite appropriate considering their immaculate beauty and rarity.

The one-of-a-kind green color of emeralds is the face of royalty and regality. The emerald is a gemstone known for its bright green color, and it is the birthstone for those born in May.

Curious about the science behind this infamous stone? Read on to find out all about the elements responsible for this stone’s distinct color, as well as its formation process. We will also cover how to properly care for and clean them. Let’s dive in!

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A Brief Overview of Emerald’s Formation 

All gemstones get their distinct colors from trace metals or impurities in the mineral, and in the case of emeralds, traces of chromium and vanadium give them their intense green color.

The majority of gems are formed naturally as minerals within the Earth. Learning about the geological processes that lead to the formation of gemstones will help you better understand some of the properties you will come across in gemstones. 

Some of the many gemstones formed by metamorphic rock include emerald and aquamarine. The term, metamorphic, refers to the process by which heat and pressure transform pre-existing minerals into something new.

This means that underground pressure causes minerals and elements that are already present to crystallize into beryls. As a result, emeralds are formed from the creation of beryls.

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The Greener The Emerald The Greater its Value

The color green is what distinguishes an emerald from all the rest. A specimen must be noticeably green in color, ranging from bluish-green to green, to slightly yellowish-green, to be classified as an emerald.

Trace levels of chromium and/or vanadium give them their green hues. Unlike other valuable stones, which come in a variety of colors, emeralds are always green, with shades ranging from yellow-green to deep jade.

The gem must also be of a deep color to be considered an emerald. Green beryl, the mineral family it belongs to, should be used to describe stones with low saturation or a light tone.

Considering the palest stones, they are not emeralds, but rather green beryl, contrary to popular perception. Blueish-green to green emeralds with vivid saturation and a medium to medium-dark tone are believed to be the most attractive. It is an "aquamarine" if the beryl is greenish-blue in color, while it is a "heliodor" if it is greenish-yellow.

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On a scale of 0 percent tone being colorless, and 100 percent being opaque black, the best emeralds are roughly 75 percent tone. Furthermore, a quality emerald will be saturated and have a vibrant, or vivid, tone.

A grayish-green tint is a dull-green hue; gray is the standard saturation modifier or mask seen in emeralds. This color definition can be perplexing.

What are the color, tone, and brightness combinations that distinguish "green beryl" from "emerald"? Experts in the gemstone and jewelry industry may dispute where to draw the lines.

Some people argue that when chromium is indeed the origin of the green color, the word "emerald" should be used, while stones tinted by vanadium should be named "green beryl”. The difference between calling a gem an "emerald" and a "green beryl" could have a big impact on its pricing and marketability.

Within the United States, there is "color misunderstanding", while in some other nations, any beryl with a faint green tint is referred to as an "emerald".

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Science 101: Formulation Process of An Emerald Birthstone

The Natural Process 

Unlike diamonds, which have their own grading system, natural emeralds are regarded as one of the most valuable precious stones, having a long history and a distinct worth. The natural method of emerald development differs from that of manufactured emerald development.

Emerald is commonly found in granite pegmatites and metamorphosed rocks, known as schists. It can also be found embedded in calcite or quartz, and is sometimes connected with altered limestones. When magma cools, some components stay in the residual fluid, forming a pegmatite.

When the residual solution cools, emerald crystals may form as long as all of the required components, including beryllium, are present. Hot liquids escaping from a deeper magma can also generate emeralds in crustal veins.

Just about all emerald is mined in situ, or from deposits that are near the mother lode. This is due to the fact that the emerald is indeed a very weak stone that will not withstand the abuse and rigor of being transported through streams or glacial ice.

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This does not rule out micro-emeralds, as one of the local collectors just brought in a micro-emerald crystal obtained from sand in the Dakota Group of the late Cretaceous in southeastern Nebraska. Australia has historically been a significant emerald producer, as well.

There have also been descriptions of a number of significant locations in New South Wales and Western Australia. Many of the emeralds depicted in colorful prints are more likely to be green beryl, however, there are some superb blue-green stones.

Emerald is easy to distinguish from other gemstones such as peridot (extremely strong double dispersion), tourmaline (strong dual refractions and thready impurities), tsavorite garnet (separately refractive), and glass due to its modest physical and optical qualities (bubbles, swirl marks, etc.).


The Synthetic Process

The hydrothermal growth and flux-fusion processes are the two main ways for creating synthetic emeralds. The latter is a well-known but old way of creating lab-created emeralds. This process makes use of a flux, which is a heated mineral solution that cools to create crystals.

Crystals are formed by dissolving chromium, beryllium, and other elements in a molten flux and allowing crystallization to develop on a seed of beryl in the flux-growth process. Lithium oxide, molybdenum oxide, and vanadium oxide are among the compounds in the flux that remain liquid at high temperatures.

However, this is a time-consuming procedure that takes about a year to produce sufficient crystals. The hydrothermal approach, which was first used in the 1960s, takes about the same amount of time.

Hydrothermal synthesis entails dissolving constituents in acid at high pressure and temperature, followed by crystallization in a colder chamber. It imitates the conditions formed in the Earth's crust by applying pressure and heat. A method for growing emerald overgrowth on colorless beryl has also been discovered.


Carroll Chatham's emerald synthesis process was the first commercially effective emerald synthesis process, most likely employing a lithium vanadate flux process, as Chatham's emeralds have no water and contain traces of vanadate molybdenum and vanadium. Pierre Gilson Sr. was the other major emerald producer, with products on the market from 1964.

Gilson's emeralds are typically developed on both sides of natural colorless beryl seeds. A normal seven-month growing run generates emerald crystals 7 millimeters thick at a rate of 1 mm each month.

Since the 1990s, new and increasingly sophisticated synthetic gemstones have been created that more nearly resemble the physical qualities of real emeralds, such as the presence of inclusions.

This elevates the importance of accurate categorization and identification by reputed gem traders in the market. Synthetic stones are nearly identical to their natural counterparts in terms of visual, chemical, and physical qualities. These man-made stones are undetectable to the human eye. Artificial gemstones, on the other hand, are not as uncommon as natural gemstones because they can be made to order.

The Federal Trade Commission regulates the selling and marketing of artificial gems and requires that the origin and content of the gem be disclosed. Furthermore, international gem trade associations, such as the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), issue rules and guidelines to their members regarding the disclosure of a gem's synthetic origin at the time of sale.

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All Shapes & Sizes 

Emeralds come in a variety of forms, with pear and oval being particularly great at showcasing their size and color. The following are some of its various shapes:

  • Oval

A faceted oblong shape, these make for exquisite centerpieces of rings. Distinguishing the cut nature of an emerald is often difficult, and the preference for a more square vs a longer shape is largely reliant on personal taste. The range of adequate profundity percent fluctuates from precious stone to gem as a result of this one-of-a-kind characteristic.

  • Emerald-Cut 

The emerald cut crystal has a long, rectangular form with etched advance cuts and straight direct brilliance that runs parallel to the stone's length. The margins of an emerald cut stone are usually cut to add strength and prevent cracks. When selecting an emerald cut, we recommend selecting one with a higher clarity rating.

  • Asscher

Often confused with emerald cut, the asscher is a more square version. Emerald gemstones epitomize elegance and complexity. The emerald cut is rectangular, with cut corners and columns of step-aspects that reflect off each other, while square emeralds are commonly referred to as Asscher cut jewels. This effect is referred to as a "corridor of mirrors" every now and again. Considerations are easier to notice in an emerald jewel with the naked eye because of its large advanced aspects.

  • Pear

Pear cuts, in addition to emerald cuts, are becoming increasingly expensive and rare as a result of the greater amount of harshness required to cut them. Often fitted on rings, these pear-shaped stones are stunning.

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The 5 Properly Cleaning and Caring for Your Emerald Stone 

Warm soapy water or a lukewarm cloth are the best ways to clean emerald jewelry. Avoid using powerful detergents that could dilute or eliminate the stone's natural oils and shine. Alcohol, acetone, or paint thinner should never be used to soak emeralds. To properly clean your emerald, follow the procedures below:

  1. Remove the grease and grime from the emerald jewelry with a delicate microfiber towel.
  2. Fill a bowl halfway with lukewarm water and a small amount of mild soap. Place the jewelry in this slightly soapy mixture.
  3. Clean the jewelry with a soft toothbrush or a jewelry brush. Use the brush to get into those hard-to-reach areas and completely clean them, being sure not to scratch or damage the surface. 
  4. Fill a second basin halfway with lukewarm water. Submerge the jewelry completely in the water, making sure there is no soapy residue remaining on the emeralds.
  5. Using a gentle, clean microfiber towel, dry the jewelry. When the jewelry is completely dried, it can be safely stored away or worn again.

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Avoid exposing your emeralds to hot lighting, direct sunlight, or other sources of heat, as they might cause fracture fillings to dry out. As some filters can be damaged by heat, it is recommended to remove emeralds from their settings before making jewelry repairs involving heat.

The heat from jeweler's torches, for example, could burn fracture-filling resins or cause oils to sweat out of surface-reaching fractures. You will have to pay a little more for emerald jewelry repairs than what you would for more durable gemstones.

Check your jewelry, especially your emerald jewelry, on a regular basis to ensure that the gemstones are safe in their mount. Any gemstone loss is painful, but losing an emerald would would be especially difficult for the soul.

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Shop Enchanting Emeralds 

The emerald is one of the most beloved gemstones in the world. It has truly stood the test of time, with famous names such as Cleopatra and Princess Diana cherishing this stone, and still being worn and adored to this day. With its bright green exterior that dazzles and shines, it captivates from the very first glance.

Its aesthetic beauty is then coupled with its unparalleled powers and properties that help the wearer shine from the inside out. Providing a wealth of inspiration, wisdom, and harmony to all who wear it, there is nothing not to love about this enchanting stone.

Learning about its unique formation process only adds to its charm. If you would like to add an emerald to your own collection, please visit our website. From there you can browse our full collection of unique emeralds and emerald jewelry. You are sure to find something you love!

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