Emerald - A Green Date

As gorgeous as they are to wear, emeralds make an interesting read too! We delve into its depths with jewellery expert Joanna Hardy

By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: June 10, 2014

As gorgeous as they are to wear, emeralds make an interesting read too! We delve into its depths with jewellery expert Joanna Hardy.

Emeralds, much like diamonds, have that ethereal quality, which make them much desired by women. With that unique, deep green, beautiful shade of its, many women have turned the same shade at seeing it on other women!

Emerald crystals grow one molecule at a time. And each molecule requires specific conditions, time and space to grow into a quality crystal. Emeralds that are mined today are actually relics of geologic events that took place hundreds of millions of years ago, deep in the Earth’s crust. You own one? Then you own a piece of history and a slice of geographical wonder as well… Can anything be more beautiful than that?

Recognising a true emerald, however, is an education in itself. You know Zambian and Colombian emeralds are supposed to best, but how do you know where a gem is from? We caught up with Ms Joanna Hardy, who has recently penned down all this and more, in a coffee table book titled ‘Emerald’.

Ms Hardy has 30 years’ experience of working with jewellery, initially beginning her career as a goldsmith before moving into the diamond world as a trader. Having worked at Phillips the Auctioneers in London, and until recently, at Sotheby’s Fine Art Auctioneers, Ms Hardy is a credible jewellery consultant. She has recently established a series of Jewellery Master Classes within her business. She lectures widely and is a Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company, a Freeman of the City of London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Ms Hardy regularly conducts charity auctions and delivers seminars and lectures for various charities and institutions.

Under the microscope
The technicality behind a true emerald is quite intricate. But as they say, practice makes the man perfect. Ask Ms Hardy and she talks about how to identify a good emerald: “Remember that emeralds typically have eye-visible flaws or inclusions. These can make a stone more affordable without affecting its durability and beauty, but some flaws can block the passage of light, making the stone look dull or lifeless. The fewer the flaws and the higher the transparency of an emerald, the greater its fire or life, and the higher its value. Surface-reaching cracks or inclusions may compromise durability and are best avoided. Take a careful look at the stone with light reflected off the surface.”

Of course, when buying these glittering gems, make sure you get a certificate from a recognized gemological laboratory, giving the stone’s dimensions, weight and origin, and disclosing any treatments it has undergone. “Emeralds have been oiled for centuries, which is acceptable, but modern enhancements and treatments need to be disclosed as these greatly affect the value,” says Ms Hardy

The evenness of colour is important as well. Uneven distribution of colour means lesser value. As mentioned, probably everyone worth their jewellery is aware that Colombian and Zambian emeralds are of high standards, though Ms Hardy presents a caveat that there is a variation of quality from mine to mine too. But you’ll be surprised to find out, as we were, that many a good quality emeralds come from Afghanistan, Brazil and Pakistan too!

A fascinating read

Ms Hardy, who wrote the book with co-authors Jonathan Self and Hettie Judah, was delighted to have been asked to contribute. “So many books have been written on diamonds and pearls but never in depth on emeralds. And I am always up for a challenge!” she says. 

The book is not a technical bore as one would expect, but as glittering as its subject, as it delves into the extraordinary world of emeralds and the mysticism it held for many a diva! It showcases 200 emerald jewellery pieces, compiled by Ms Hardy, as she traces beauties such as Cleopatra and their emerald pieces. She also talks about commissions by grand Indian Maharajas. Ms Hardy says, “Emeralds have always looked good mounted in yellow gold and, therefore, because of India’s love of gold, emeralds are a great compliment to Indian jewellery. Emeralds have always been revered by the Moghul Emperors and Maharajahs, so they are part of the cultural heritage of India.” Creations from brands like Cartier, Boucheron and Bulgari feature in the book too.

One of the top five precious gemstones in the world, people sometimes undermine the complexity and allure of emeralds. Ms Hardy wants to change that with this book. “I wanted people to get a sense of how important emeralds have been throughout history, and throughout the world, and also put jewellery into a social context to make it easier for people to understand that there is more to jewellery than just ‘bling culture’,” she says. The quality, in-depth research and storyline of the book ‘Emerald’ will certainly solve the purpose we think.

Fashion tip? Ms Hardy hints emeralds look quite splendid in candlelight. You know you have to wear it at that romantic dinner now…

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