Brazilian emeralds: coveted stones!
As Cleopatra's favorite stone, the emerald was known in Egypt to be the queen of stones. However, it takes its name from the grec smaragdus which means very simply "green gemstone". Yet it is in Brazil that MYEL's emeralds are formed and recovered to adorn our delicate creations.
A sneak peek at history…
For a long time, gem mining in Brazil was mainly based on diamonds. Today, diamond mining in Brazil has only a marginal influence on the economy. The country's gem economy has been based on the mining of colored stones for several decades. Two Brazilian states are particularly well known for their exploitation of colored gemstone deposits; Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul.
The history of Brazil is closely linked to mining and the richness of its subsoil. Until the 13th century, the lands of Brazil were regularly traversed only by explorers called bandeirantes. These adventurers conquering the territory had as a primary mission the capture of the indigenous population in order to reduce them to slavery. Their secondary mission was the search for metals and precious stones. The discovery of gold and diamond deposits triggered one of the most important waves of migration that would prove decisive in the construction of Brazil.
Although the exploitation of precious metals and stones marked the beginning of the mining adventure in this country, "it can be affirmed that the search for emeralds was the first reason, or at least the one that agitated the minds of the settlers before all else" - Rocha Pombo, 1919 [translated from Portuguese].
The discovery of emeralds in Brazil
In the 16th century, the Bandeirantes began to search for emeralds, especially in the state of Minas Gerais. However, they only found green tourmaline, which some people mistook for emerald. It was not until 1912, in the state of Bahia, that the first trace of emerald was discovered. Because it received very little attention at the time, it was not until 1961 that new research was conducted.
Since the 1970s, Brazil has been a steady source of emeralds. While Brazilian emeralds were not known for their quality, that perception has since changed.
Our Brazilian Emeralds
At MYEL, we are committed to providing our customers with high-end jewelry. We believe that guaranteeing the traceability of the stones we use is essential to accomplish our mission.
The emeralds you find at MYEL come from Brazil and are purchased directly from the Belmont mine by our gemologist partners. This mine is located on the owner's family farm, about 15 kilometers from Itabira, in Minas Gerais. This property is originally a cattle ranch and still is today. However, since 1978, Belmont has also operated an emerald mine. It is currently managed by Marcelo Ribeiro, whose grandfather allegedly discovered emeralds by chance on the ranch.
Did you know that emerald is one of the four gemstones along with sapphires, rubies and diamonds?
How is the value of emeralds determined?
Transparent emeralds with a dark, bright green colour are considered the most beautiful. Indeed, the value and beauty of an emerald is determined primarily by its colour and transparency.
However, the quality of an emerald can be assessed using the universal 4 Cs:
- its colour: the darker the green of the stone, the higher its quality
- its number of carats, in other words its weight
- its cut (or faceted)
- its clarity (or purity), that is to say the presence or absence of inclusion in the stone, what we called its transparency before.
A delicate stone
Emerald is part of the Beryls family and therefore consists of Beryllium which gives it its shape, and Chromium which gives it its well-known green colour. The formation of the emerald requires exceptional geological conditions, which also explains its rarity and its covetousness. It is a soft gemstone, which is why it is sensitive to shocks and temperature changes.
Its famous shape — the emerald cut — is designed to show the fiery brilliance of the stone while limiting the risk of breakage during setting and once worn.
Emeralds are usually small in size. Large emeralds are so rare that they can be worth up to 20 times more than a diamond of the same size.
Emerald's unique green color is reminiscent of rich, verdant landscapes. The Aztecs called it Quetzalitzli, like the bird of paradise which symbolizes the renewal of seasons, fertility and life.
How to maintain your jewelry set with an emerald?
As we have seen, emerald is a delicate stone that is sensitive to shocks and temperature changes. However, it can totally find its place on an everyday piece of jewelry and retain a radiant shine if cared for properly. For your engagement rings set with emeralds, you can use our Cleaning Pencil. If your jewelry needs a more intense cleaning, do not hesitate to come to the store to drop it off. You can also consult our page dedicated to jewelry care to find out more.
Lucas A. (2012) Brazil’s Emerald Industry. Gems & Gemology, 48(1). Retrieved from https://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/spring-2012-brazil-emerald-lucas
Or du Monde (s.d.) Émeraude Éthique : Un vert intense et vif originaire du Brésil et de la Zambie. Repéré à https://www.ordumonde.com/guides-gemmologie/emeraude-41
Reys, A. (2014) La filière brésilienne des pierres gemmes « de couleur ». Cahier des Amériques Latines (Paris, France: 1985), 3(77) : 161-178