Emerald Myth Busters: Identifying Colombian Stones
Colombian emeralds can command premium prices. Jeffery Bergman separates emerald myth from fact when it comes to determining the origins of these stones.
1 Minute Read
Emerald Myth #1: Colombian emeralds are colored by chromium. Zambian are colored by vanadium.
Chromium (Cr), vanadium (V), and iron (Fe) are the known chromophores for emerald. Colombian emeralds typically feature very low percentages of Fe and moderate to high percentages of both Cr and V. It’s not unusual for the V percentage to exceed that of the Cr in Colombian emeralds. Zambian emeralds typically have higher Cr and Fe, and lower V, than Colombian.
Brazilian, Zambian, and Zimbabwean emeralds typically have a Cr content 10-20 times higher than V content.
Emerald Myth #2: Three-phase inclusions indicate Colombian origin.
Emerald Myth #3: Pyrite inclusions indicate Colombian origin.
Emerald Myth #4: A Chelsea filter can help separate Colombian emeralds from those with other origins.
Fe dampens the Chelsea filter reaction induced by Cr. As a result, many emeralds from Brazil, Zambia, Ethiopia, and other sources with high enough Cr and relatively high Fe will show no reaction. On the other hand, emeralds with sufficient Cr and low enough Fe will show a pink to red Chelsea filter reaction, typical of Colombian emeralds. However, this has also been observed in some emeralds from Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Russia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Jeffery Bergman, SSEF SGC
Jeffery Bergman, SSEF SGC, founder and director of 8th Dimension Gems in Thailand, is an American gem dealer with more than 40 years of experience in gemstone and fine jewelry mining, cutting, wholesaling and retailing. His career has taken him to more than 50 countries and every continent except Antarctica. He has appeared on the BBC, CNN, NBC, ABC and GEO; and has been featured in Time, USA Today, National Geographic, Gems & Gemology and Discovery Channel magazine. He is a regular guest speaker at gem lab seminars and gemological association conferences and universities.
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