How Are Emeralds Mined & Processed?

Written by mike parker
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How Are Emeralds Mined & Processed?
Emeralds have been mined for at least 4,000 years. (emerald ring image by studio vision 1 from Fotolia.com)

Emeralds are precious stones that are frequently mentioned along with rubies, sapphires and diamonds as being among the most rare and expensive jewels on earth, according to EmbassyEmeralds.com. Emerald deposits have been found in various locations around the world including Brazil, Russia, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. Colombia is well known for its productive emerald mines.

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Identification

Emeralds are part of the beryl family of minerals. They range in colour from dark-green and blue-green to milky or opaque shades of green. The colour is typically determined by variations in the chromium content of the stone, but the colour may also be affected by the manner in which the stones are extracted, or mined.

Mining

According to JewelryInfo4You.com, the two primary methods for mining emeralds include the open-pit method and the tunnel method. Open-pit mining involves excavating at the surface in order to extract the underlying ore. It is typically used for coal and other hard-rock minerals such as gold, copper, diamonds and emeralds. Tunnel mining involves digging a shaft, or tunnel, into the earth in order to extract the minerals.

Processing

Raw emeralds are sent to skilled craftsmen to be cut. Cutting is a precise and delicate operation that requires considerable skill and attention to detail. The emerald may be cut into a variety of shapes including octagonal, oval, round and the classic emerald cut. Once cut, emeralds are sent to a gemologist for polishing and treating to enhance their colour or to improve the ability of light to pass through the stone.

Setting

Jewellers set loose-cut and treated emeralds into a variety of settings including rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Emeralds are frequently set into precious-metal settings such as gold, white gold or silver. Other precious stones, including diamonds, may be set alongside the emerald to enhance its beauty.

Considerations

Emeralds are graded in value in much the same fashion as diamonds. According to Emeralds.com, the grading process consists of the four Cs: colour, clarity, cut and carat weight. Of the four Cs, colour is considered the most important factor for determining the quality of the stone. The best-quality stones should be dark blue-green, translucent and brilliant. Opaque emeralds are considered to be poor-quality stones

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