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Emerald and the Great Pretenders

By  Judith Anderson  GG, CGA

In the early 1500's,  a cunning missionary told the Spanish Conquistadors in Peru that real emeralds could withstand the blow of a hammer,  while false stones would be shattered.  Consequently,  the Spanish conquerors began testing the emeralds they had looted by striking them with a hammer.  Many beautiful emeralds were destroyed.  And,  as a result,  the wiley missionary profited from his deception.

18kt gold ring with an emerald and princess cut diamonds. The destruction of the Conquistadors' emeralds assured that there was a shortage of the precious green stones in Europe.  When he returned to Spain,  the "good padre" carried a large quantity of undamaged emeralds which he promptly sold for a great profit.

Even today,  fine emeralds are as scarce and costly,  as they are beautiful.   And,  there also remains a bit of chicanery in the emerald market with misgraded,  treated and lab-created gemstones being offered to the consumer.  If you are considering the purchase of an emerald,  you should also consider the other green gemstones  -  chrome tourmaline, tsavorite garnet and chrome diopside.  They challenge more traditional emeralds with exciting variations in color,  greater durability and tantalizing optical properties.

Tsavorite garnet is a vibrant green reminiscent of the yellowish-greens of early spring foliage.   Tsavorite is only found in the Tsavo Park region of East Africa for which it is named.   Since its introduction by Tiffanys in the late 1970's,  tsavorite's great fire,  brilliance,  hardness and clarity have recommended it as a superior alternative to emerald.

Chrome tourmaline,  from Tanzania,  is a vivid green often accented with hints of blue or yellow.  In addition to a tantalizing color,  this gemstone offers greater durability and fewer inclusions than emerald.  Chrome tourmaline,  with its lower price range,  offers exciting possibilities for custom jewelry designs that feature an intense green gemstone.

Chrome diopside exhibits a lush green which calls to mind darkly shaded tropical rain forests.  Chrome diopside is best suited for earrings and brooches,  because it is a relatively soft gemstone.  It is as soft as Opal,  measuring 6 on the Mohs scale.

In addition to great shades of green,  these beautiful gemstones offer the consumer a range of costs.  Tsavorite garnets are significantly less expensive than emeralds of comparable quality,  while chrome tourmalines and diopsides are even easier on the pocket book.  If you are considering a special jewel with a green gemstone, you may want to consider one of these exotic beauties!

Bijoux Extraordinaire  is a practice of independent gemologists providing jewelry appraisals,  custom jewelry design and gemstone acquisition services for jewelry and gemstone enthusiasts.  If you are considering the purchase of an emerald or other fine gemstone,  please contact us to learn more about how we can help you.  Our gemologists will provide you with the expertise and knowledge you need to acquire a beautfiul gemstone of lasting quality at a fair price.
Pendant with Holly chalcedony and tsavorites.

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