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Author Topic: E M E R A L D S  (Read 196 times)
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« on: November 08, 2008, 07:31:45 pm »

                            Origin And Trade Of Some Of The World's Most Historic Emeralds

(Jan. 31, 2000) —
Washington, D.C. --

Some of Europe and Asia's most historically valuable emeralds arrived on the shores of the Old World
and dominated the emerald trade there soon after they were recovered from New World mines by
Spanish conquistadors, according to a group of French and Columbian scientists.

The researchers used an oxygen isotope "fingerprinting" technique to reveal this surprising extent of
the Spanish trade and to uncover evidence of "lost" Asian emerald sources in antiquity. Their results
are published in the 28 January issue of Science.

For more than 4000 years, emeralds have been treasured around the world as a symbol of eternal
spring and immortality, prized by the Egyptians, Romans (Emperor Nero surveyed the gladiators
through an emerald monocle), the Moguls of India, the Aztecs, and the crowned heads of Europe
among others.

However, the origin of most well-known emeralds has been obscured by the long shadow of history.

Gaston Giuliani of the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement and the Centre de Recherches Pétro-
graphiques et Géochimiques-CNRS in Vandoeuvre, France, Marc Chaussidon of the CRPG-CNRS,
and their French and Columbian colleagues sought to clear up this mystery for nine historic emeralds
spanning a time period from the Roman occupation of France until the 18th century.

These gems included part of an earring from the Gallo-Roman site of Miribel in France, an emerald from
the Holy Crown of France placed there by the crusading Louis IX (St. Louis) in the 1200s, 18th century
emeralds from the treasury of the Nizam, princely rulers of the former state of Hyderabad in India, emeralds
studied by French founding mineralogist Abbé Hauy for his definitive description of the gemstone in 1806,
and an emerald recovered from the famous wreck of the Spanish treasure galleon the Nuestra Señora de
Atocha that sank in a hurricane off the coast of Florida in 1622.

The researchers were motivated to take on this project after work in mines in Columbia and Brazil revealed
that the deposits from each geographic region--and often from individual mines--are characterized by very
specific oxygen isotope levels. Oxygen isotope values in gems such as emeralds reflect the composition and temperature of the fluids that eventually crystallized to form the emerald, as well as the composition and temperature of the rocks that the fluids journeyed through before their consolidation into gemstone.

There is a narrow range of these isotope values for each site where emeralds have been discovered worldwide. Along with more traditional gemological aspects, such as optical properties and the inclusion of other materials, researchers can use these unique isotope values to pinpoint where an emerald was "born."
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2008, 07:39:22 pm »

To gather these isotope values, Giuliani, Chaussidon and their colleagues used a technique known
as ion microprobe oxygen isotopic analysis. The method works by bombarding the emerald with an
electron ion beam, which dislodges oxygen ions from the crystal lattice of the gem that the scientists
can collect and analyze. This makes very small craters in the stones that are invisible to the naked
eye. The virtually non-destructive method allowed the research team to reassure the curators of
these priceless gems that their investigations would not cause irreparable harm, Giuliani said.

The isotope values of the nine emeralds in their study offer an unequaled glimpse at the mining and trade
of emeralds from antiquity through the Age of Exploration. For instance, Egypt and Austria were thought
to be the only sources of gem-quality emeralds in the ancient world, and the researchers did find that the
Holy Crown and Hauy emeralds came from mines in these areas. However, they traced the Miribel earring
stone to Pakistan, a previously unrecognized source of emeralds in antiquity. And according to the isotope
data, one of the stones from the Hyderabad treasury in India originated in Afghanistan. "The deposits in
these areas fall along the old Silk Route," Giuliani said, "and it may be that they were mined or collected
there as traders passed though, and brought to Rome and France and elsewhere."

Also surprising was the origin of the remaining three emeralds from the Hyderabad treasury, often known
as "old mine" emeralds for their supposed source in lost mines of Asia. Some scholars believe that these
emeralds may have made their historical debut as far back in time as the days of Alexander the Great
(around 300 B.C.), eventually finding their way into the opulent coffers of the Nizam by the 1800s.

Instead, the isotope analysis showed that these prized stones came from three separate mines in Columbia, indicating that the trade in emeralds from the New World made rapid and significant inroads into Europe and
the Near East.

Analysis of the emerald from the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha reveals a Columbian origin for that
gem as well, providing further direct evidence of the Spanish role in bringing New World emeralds into Old
World trade.
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2008, 07:41:43 pm »

The researchers speculate that many of the emeralds held in large museum caches of treasure in
modern-day India may come from Columbian mines, as well as from old Asian sources such as Afghan-
istan and Pakistan. "Columbian emerald deposits are unique in the world, producing stones with richer
color, clarity, and bigger crystals than most emerald deposits," Giuliani said. "We imagine that these
were the qualities that the Spanish, and the rest of the world, were interested in."

The researchers plan to apply the oxygen isotope technique to studying rubies next, after completing
the necessary survey of the geology and geochemistry of ruby deposits around the world. "This type
of analysis was a small part of our work initially," said Giuliani. "But we see that as geologists working
with gemstones and gemologists, we may be permitted to make a contribution to the study of trade
and human history."


Adapted from materials provided by American Association For The Advancement Of Science.
Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:

 MLA American Association For The Advancement Of Science (2000, January 31).
Origin And Trade Of Some Of The World's Most Historic Emeralds. ScienceDaily.

Retrieved November 8, 2008, from­ /releases/2000/01/000131075658.htm
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2009, 08:57:22 am »


                                   How an Emerald, 840 Pounds of It, Landed in Court

by Tamara Audi
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Wall Street Journal

 Just before Christmas, detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department pried open a crate outside a warehouse to find something they had been chasing for months: an 840-pound Brazilian emerald that had been reported stolen.

Now, if they could just figure out who owns it. So far, at least five people have come forward to say it's theirs.

"It seems like the more we talk to people, the more people claim to have ownership over this thing," said Lt. Thomas Grubb, who heads the sheriff's investigative team on the case. "We haven't determined who's not a suspect, really."

Unable to determine who the real owner is, Lt. Grubb decided to keep the emerald locked up while the investigation proceeds. Meanwhile, a Los Angeles civil court is scheduled to hear from different claimants in the case on Tuesday.

Lt. Grubb, who had spent the bulk of his 26-year career conducting narcotics investigations, first got onto the case last September. A distraught man named Larry Biegler had called the sheriff's office to say that his giant emerald had been stolen from a Los Angeles-area warehouse where he had been keeping it. It was worth nearly $400 million, he said.

Lt. Grubb's detectives began investigating.

The emerald, they determined, was in the possession of two businessmen named Todd Armstrong and Kit Morrison, whom detectives tracked to a small town called Eagle, in western Idaho. When the detectives arrived in Eagle, Mr. Armstrong was in the process of trying to sell the emerald to a buyer. "We've run into a small snag," Mr. Armstrong says he told his buyer.

The Idaho men said the emerald belonged to them. They said in an interview they paid Mr. Biegler $1 million for diamonds he never delivered. Mr. Biegler had put the emerald up as collateral, they say, for the stones. When the diamonds didn't materialize, they picked up the emerald from the warehouse in Los Angeles. They showed investigators a stack of documents they said prove their claim.

Mr. Biegler -- a gem broker and real-estate investor -- disputes that account. He says he kept up his end of the diamond deal, and claims the Idaho men agreed to pay $80 million for the emerald, which he was willing to sell at that price.

The Idaho men agreed to turn over the emerald to the sheriff's deputies until the matter could be resolved. But the emerald wasn't even in Idaho. Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Morrison had placed it in a secured warehouse in Las Vegas for safekeeping.

Lt. Grubb began to organize an excursion to Las Vegas. On the morning detectives drove to get the emerald, he told his deputies: "We're going to stop on the way and get breakfast. We're going to pick up a $400 million piece of evidence. On the way back, we're not stopping."

When Lt. Grubb finally laid eyes on the emerald, he said, "It almost didn't look real."

Those who have seen the emerald describe it as a black boulder with protruding arm-sized green crystal cylinders. Gem experts say unbroken crystals of that size are rare. Such a large specimen usually would not be broken down into smaller pieces for jewelry. It would more likely be sold intact to a private collector or a museum. An appraisal done in Brazil valued it at $372 million, according to documents filed with the Los Angeles court.

However, George Harlow, curator of minerals and gems for the American Museum of Natural History in New York, says that the most impressive mineral specimens might bring a price of up to six or seven figures. "But nine figures? I'm unaware of any mineral specimen that's ever gone for that much money."

So far, the Bahia emerald hasn't sold for a fortune. But it definitely has been around. The emerald was first dug up from a mine in 2001 in Bahia, in eastern Brazil. Bahia emeralds are among the oldest on Earth, formed two billion years ago, according to the Gemological Institute of America.

The emerald's first owners were a Brazilian gem trader, who owned the rights to the mine, and his business partner. In 2005, they shipped the emerald to a business associate in San Jose, Calif., named Ken Conetto, according to claims made in court documents filed by Mr. Conetto. Mr. Conetto says he kept the emerald stored in San Jose while attempting to find a buyer. He did not pay for the emerald, but he agreed to share some of the profits with the Brazilians, he says.

From San Jose, Mr. Conetto sent the gem to New Orleans, where he thought he had a buyer lined up. When Hurricane Katrina hit, it flooded the warehouse where the emerald was being kept, Mr. Conetto says. The emerald was submerged for weeks, and the sale was never concluded. The emerald returned to San Jose.

Mr. Conetto enlisted Mr. Biegler to help him sell the emerald.

They thought they could find potential buyers in Los Angeles. So last June, they loaded the rock into a van and drove it down themselves, Mr. Conetto said. Halfway through the trip, the van broke down, leaving the two men and their emerald stranded somewhere on Interstate 5. They rolled into a motel. Mr. Conetto said they paid the motel's owner and her boyfriend to help load the emerald into another van.

Eventually, it made it to Los Angeles County, where it sat in a warehouse.

But things began to sour between Mr. Biegler and Mr. Conetto, according to both men. Mr. Biegler says he took possession of the stone after Mr. Conetto pledged it as collateral on a loan he failed to pay.

Mr. Conetto says he never actually borrowed the money and that the emerald is still his.

It's not uncommon for gems to be used as financing tools for business deals, passed back and forth on paper among brokers while never leaving a vault. That can lead to multiple parties using a jumble of documents to claim rights to the same gem.

Meanwhile, new claims continue to emerge. Anthony Thomas a gem trader from outside San Jose, says he is the rightful owner of the emerald because he purchased it for $60,000 from the Brazilians in 2001. Mr. Thomas has also filed a claim in Los Angeles superior court.

On Tuesday, the court will begin hearing the competing claims of ownership. The emerald, however, remains locked up in the sheriff's custody.

"I'm going to write a nonfiction book on this," Mr. Armstrong says. "But I'm going to have to sell it in the fiction section because nobody will believe it's true."

Write to Tamara Audi
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2009, 09:05:54 am »

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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2009, 08:12:12 pm »

July 2005

- "I’ll never complain about your going metal detecting again!" Jennifer had just finished jumping up and down between exclamations. "Oh My God!"

Her husband, Gary Drayton, had been detecting the beach several hundred yards to the south and had placed in her hand a beautiful gold and emerald ring he had just recovered. It was a ring that had obviously had been carried aboard the 1715 Spanish galleon "Nieves" that sank 2-1/2 miles south of the Fort Pierce inlet. It was a narrow gold band with eight deep-green emeralds surrounding a center-mounted, larger green emerald. It was a magnificent ring that barely hinted at its submersion in the ocean for almost 290 years. But then … gold is forever.

The day was great for beach hunting, windless with a calm ocean. He always liked to get an early start in the morning, and that day he had a feeling it was "his" day. On recent visits to this beach he had begun to recover a few silver coins and silver plate parts, mixed in with an assortment of iron spikes. His wife Jennifer had said that morning, "Put your metal detector in the car, and I’ll sit on the beach with the kids while you detect."

It was a family decision that had a good omen.

Gary was using a Minelab "Excalibur" metal detector and got his "hit" in a pile of shells several yards up from the water’s edge. It was a different kind of hit, louder and with a different tone. He dug down about 18 inches, and when he first saw the artifact he believed it to be a champagne bottle top twist. As he picked it up and turned it over, his knees became weak. The gold was as bright and shiny as the day it was made, and the emeralds were unbelievably deep green. He was thunderstruck. He walked down to the water’s edge, then back up to the dune line. He was seized by the urgency to show the ring to his wife, and running in sand took his breath away.

And so it went, a family outing that produced a treasure fit for a king. The Drayton family will be spending many more trips to the beach, and if luck will have it there will be more jumping up and down as treasure is recovered.
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2009, 08:24:45 pm »


Emeralds are fascinating gemstones. They have the most beautiful, most intense and most radiant green that can possibly be imagined: emerald green. Inclusions are tolerated. In top quality, fine emeralds are even more valuable than diamonds.

The name emerald comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' via the Old French 'esmeralde', and really just means 'green gemstone'. Innumerable fantastic stories have grown up around this magnificent gem. The Incas and Aztecs of South America, where the best emeralds are still found today, regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone. However, probably the oldest known finds were once made near the Red Sea in Egypt. Having said that, these gemstone mines, already exploited by Egyptian pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C. and later referred to as 'Cleopatra's Mines', had already been exhausted by the time they were rediscovered in the early 19th century.

Written many centuries ago, the Vedas, the holy scriptures of the Indians, say of the precious green gems and their healing properties: 'Emeralds promise good luck ...'; and 'The emerald enhances the well-being ...'. So it was no wonder that the treasure chests of Indian maharajas and maharanis contained wonderful emeralds. One of the world's largest is the so-called 'Mogul Emerald'. It dates from 1695, weighs 217.80 carats, and is some 10cm tall. One side of it is inscribed with prayer texts, and engraved on the other there are magnificent floral ornaments. This legendary emerald was auctioned by Christie's of London to an unidentified buyer for 2.2m US Dollars on September 28th 2001.

Emeralds have been held in high esteem since ancient times. For that reason, some of the most famous emeralds are to be seen in museums and collections. The New York Museum of Natural History, for example, has an exhibit in which a cup made of pure emerald which belonged to the Emperor Jehangir is shown next to the 'Patricia', one of the largest Colombian emerald crystals, which weighs 632 carats. The collection of the Bank of Bogota includes five valuable emerald crystals with weights of between 220 and 1796 carats, and splendid emeralds also form part of the Iranian National Treasury, adorning, for example, the diadem of the former Empress Farah. The Turkish sultans also loved emeralds. In Istanbul's Topkapi Palace there are exhibits with items of jewellery, writing-implements and daggers, each lavishly adorned with emeralds and other gems.
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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2009, 08:27:57 pm »

The green of life and of love

The green of the emerald is the colour of life and of the springtime, which comes round again and again. But it has also, for centuries, been the colour of beauty and of constant love. In ancient Rome, green was the colour of Venus, the goddess of beauty and love. And today, this colour still occupies a special position in many cultures and religions. Green, for example, is the holy colour of Islam. Many of the states of the Arab League have green in their flags as a symbol of the unity of their faith. Yet this colour has a high status in the Catholic Church too, where green is regarded as the most natural and the most elemental of the liturgical colours.

The magnificent green of the emerald is a colour which conveys harmony, love of Nature and elemental joie de vivre. The human eye can never see enough of this unique colour. Pliny commented that green gladdened the eye without tiring it. Green is perceived as fresh and vivid, never as monotonous. And in view of the fact that this colour always changes somewhat between the bright light of day and the artificial light of a lamp, emerald green retains its lively vigour in all its nuances.
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2009, 08:29:39 pm »

Fingerprints of nature

The lively luminosity of its colour makes the emerald a unique gemstone. However, really good quality is fairly rare, with inclusions often marring the evenness of the colour – signs of the turbulent genesis which has characterised this gemstone. Fine inclusions, however, do not by any means diminish the high regard in which it is held. On the contrary: even with inclusions, an emerald in a deep, lively green still has a much higher value than an almost flawless emerald whose colour is paler. Affectionately, and rather poetically, the specialists call the numerous crystal inclusions, cracks or fissures which are typical of this gemstone 'jardin'. They regard the tender little green plants in the emerald garden as features of the identity of a gem which has grown naturally.

So where do they come from and how is it that they exist at all? In order to answer these questions, we need to look far, far back into the time of the emerald's origin. Emeralds from Zimbabwe are among the oldest gemstones anywhere in the world. They were already growing 2600 million years ago, whilst some specimens from Pakistan, for example, are a mere 9 million years young. From a chemical-mineralogical point of view, emeralds are beryllium-aluminium-silicates with a good hardness of 7.5 to 8, and belong, like the light blue aquamarine, the tender pink morganite, the golden heliodor and the pale green beryl, to the large gemstone family of the beryls. Pure beryl is colourless. The colours do not occur until traces of some other element are added. In the case of the emerald, it is mainly traces of chromium and vanadium which are responsible for the fascinating colour. Normally, these elements are concentrated in quite different parts of the Earth's crust to beryllium, so the emerald should, strictly speaking, perhaps not exist at all. But during intensive tectonic processes such as orogenesis, metamorphism, emergences and erosion of the land, these contrasting elements found each other and crystallised out to make one of our most beautiful gemstones. The tension involved in the geological conditions conducive to the above processes produced some minor flaws, and some major ones. A glance through the magnifying-glass or microscope into the interior of an emerald tells us something about the eventful genesis of this unique gem: here we see small or large fissures; here the sparkle of a mini-crystal or a small bubble; here shapes of all kinds. While the crystals were still growing, some of these manifestations had the chance to 'heal', and thus the jagged three-phase inclusions typical of Colombian emeralds were formed: cavities filled with fluid, which often also contain a small bubble of gas and some tiny crystals.

Logically enough, a genesis as turbulent as that of the emerald impedes the undisturbed formation of large, flawless crystals. For this reason, it is only seldom that a large emerald with good colour and good transparency is found. That is why fine emeralds are so valuable. But for the very reason that the emerald has such a stormy past, it is surely entitled to show it - that is, as long as only a fine jardin is to be seen, and not a rank garden which spoils both colour and transparency.
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2009, 08:31:56 pm »

The world of fine emeralds

Colombia continues to be at the top of the list in terms of the countries in which fine emeralds are found. It has about 150 known deposits, though not all of these are currently being exploited. The best known names are Muzo and Chivor, where emeralds were mined by the Incas in pre-Columbian times. In economic terms, the most important mine is at Coscuez, where some 60 faces are being worked. According to estimates, approximately three quarters of Colombia's emerald production now comes from the Coscuez Mine. Colombian emeralds differ from emeralds from other deposits in that they have an especially fine, shining emerald green unimpaired by any kind of bluish tint. The colour may vary slightly from find to find. This fascinatingly beautiful colour is so highly esteemed in the international emerald trade that even obvious inclusions are regarded as acceptable. But Colombia has yet more to offer: now and then the Colombian emerald mines throw up rarities such as Trapiche emeralds with their six rays emanating from the centre which resemble the spokes of a millwheel.

Even if many of the best emeralds are undisputedly of Colombian origin, the 'birthplace' of a stone is never an absolute guarantee of its immaculate quality. Fine emeralds are also found in other countries, such as Zambia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Russia. Zambia, Zimbabwe and Brazil in particular have a good reputation for fine emeralds in the international trade. Excellent emerald crystals in a beautiful, deep emerald green and with good transparency come from Zambia. Their colour is mostly darker than that of Colombian emeralds and often has a fine, slightly bluish undertone. Emeralds which are mostly smaller, but very fine, in a vivacious, intense green come from Zimbabwe's famous Sandawana Mine, and they often have a delicate yellowish-green nuance. And the famous emerald mines of Colombia currently face competition from right next door: Brazil's gemstone mine Nova Era also produces emeralds in beautiful green tones, and if they are less attractive than those of their famous neighbour it is only by a small margin. Brazil also supplies rare emerald cat's eyes and extremely rare emeralds with a six-spoked star. Thanks to the finds in Africa and Brazil, there are more emeralds on the market now than there used to be - to the delight of emerald enthusiasts - .
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2009, 08:35:12 pm »

A sophisticated gemstone

Whilst its good hardness protects the emerald to a large extent from scratches, its brittleness and its many fissures can make cutting, setting and cleaning rather difficult. Even for a skilled gem cutter, cutting emeralds presents a special challenge, firstly because of the high value of the raw crystals, and secondly because of the frequent inclusions. However, this does not detract from the cutters' love of this unique gem. Indeed, they have developed a special cut just for this gem: the emerald cut. The clear design of this rectangular or square cut with its bevelled corners brings out the beauty of this valuable gemstone to the full, at the same time protecting it from mechanical strain.

Emeralds are also cut in many other, mainly classical shapes, but if the raw material contains a large number of inclusions, it may often be cut into a gently rounded cabochon, or into one of the emerald beads which are so popular in India.

Today, many emeralds are enhanced with colourless oils or resins. This is a general trade practice, but it does have the consequence that these green treasures react very sensitively to inappropriate treatment. For example, they cannot be cleaned in an ultrasonic bath. The substances that may have been used by the cutter during his work, or applied subsequently, seal the fine pores in the surface of the gem. Removing them will end up giving the stone a matt appearance. For this reason, emerald rings should always be taken off before the wearer puts his or her hands in water containing cleansing agent.
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2009, 08:36:47 pm »

A matter of trust

Unfortunately, because the emerald is not only one of the most beautiful gemstones, but also one of the most valuable, there are innumerable synthetics and imitations. So how can you protect yourself from these 'fakes'? Well, the best way is to buy from a specialist in whom you have confidence. Large emeralds in particular should only be purchased with a report from a reputable gemmological institute. Such an institute will be able, thanks to the most modern examination techniques, to differentiate reliably between natural and synthetic emeralds, and will inform you as to whether the stone has undergone any treatment of the kind a purchaser has the right to know about.

And one more piece of advice on the purchase of an emerald: whilst diamonds generously scintillate their fire in sizes below 1 carat, you should go for larger dimensions when acquiring a coloured gemstone. True, there are some lovely pieces of jewellery with small coloured gems to set decorative accents, but emeralds, like other coloured gemstones, do not really begin to show that beautiful glow below a certain size. How large 'your' emerald ends up will depend on your personal taste, and on your budget. Really large specimens of top quality are rare. This means that the price of a top-quality emerald may be higher than that of a diamond of the same weight. The fascination exuded by a fine emerald is simply unique.

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