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Article: How a Colombian emerald is extracted


How a Colombian emerald is extracted

Colombia is renowned for being a source of some of the most beautiful and best quality emeralds in the world. These precious stones, appreciated for their intense green color and unique brightness, are extracted from the depths of Colombian mines.

Boyacá and Cundinamarca, the emerald areas of Colombia and from there come most emeralds exported daily in Colombia.

In this article, we explore the fascinating process of extracting a Colombian emerald, from mining to the discovery of these natural jewels.

Where are the emerald mines of Colombia?

Emerald mines in Colombia are mainly in the region known as the emerald stuck belt, located in the department of Boyacá, in the central part of the country. Within this region, there are several municipalities that are known for their production of emeralds. Some of the main emerald mines in Colombia include:

  1. Muzo : Muzo is one of the most recognized municipalities for its emerald production in Colombia. It is located in the center of the emerald belt and is home to some of the country's most important mines.
  2. Chivor : Another municipality highlighted in the production of emeralds is Chivor, also located in the department of Boyacá. Chivor mines are known for producing high-quality emeralds, especially blue emeralds.
  3. Coscuez : Coscuez is another important municipality in the production of emeralds in Colombia. It is located near Muzo and houses several mines that produce a variety of emeralds of different qualities.
  4. Quípama : Quípama is a municipality located in the eastern part of the emeraldil belt. Although not as well known as Muzo or Chivor, it also has emerald mines that contribute to the country's total production.

How emeralds are extracted in Colombia

Emerald extraction is a complex process that requires specific expertise and tools. Then I will briefly explain the basic steps involved in emerald extraction:

  1. Exploration : Before the extraction begins, an exploration process is carried out to identify promising areas where emeralds can be found. This may involve geological analysis of the terrain and the use of technologies such as geophysical prospecting and well drilling.
  2. Open or underground mine extraction: Once emerald deposits are identified, you can opt for open or underground extraction, depending on the location and characteristics of the site. In open-pit mining, the surface layer of earth and rock is removed to access the emerald deposit. In underground mining, tunnels and galleries are dug to reach the emerald veins.
  3. Extraction of the matrix rock : Once the emerald tank has been exposed, the matrix rock containing the gems is extracted. This rock can be removed by explosives in the case of open-pit mining, or by drilling and blowing techniques in underground mining.
  4. Separation of emeralds: Once the matrix rock is removed, the emeralds are separated from the surrounding rock. This may involve using manual tools to break the rock and release the gems, or the use of specialized machinery to shred and classify the material.
  5. Washing and selection: After separating emeralds from the matrix rock, they wash to remove dirt and waste. The emeralds are then selected and classified according to their size, shape, colour and quality.
  6. Processing and marketing: Once selected, emeralds can be subjected to polishing and carving processes to improve their appearance and value. Finally, emeralds are marketed through distribution channels that can include auctions, jewelry stores and specialized merchants.

It is important to note that emerald extraction can vary depending on the geographical location, size of the warehouse and the specific practices of the mining company. In addition, it is essential that emerald extraction be carried out responsibly and sustainably, taking into account the environmental and social impact of the activity.

New extraction technologies

Day by day new techniques and methodologies of emerald extraction emerge in Colombia. Some of these new ways of finding emeralds have emerged thanks to the updating of existing tools.

From the use of x-rays, to the use of technologies such as drones, they are the innovation tools with which miners bet on easier and even more sustainable extraction.

Here are some of the new methods of extraction of Colombian emeralds:

1. Underground mining: Instead of extracting open-air emeralds, some miners have started working on underground mines, allowing them to extract emeralds more controlled and safely.

2. X-ray technology: Some miners have begun using X-ray technology to detect the presence of emeralds in the rock before extracting them, reducing the amount of material to be processed and reducing the environmental impact.

3. Low-carbon extraction methods: some miners have begun using low-carbon extraction methods, such as solar energy, to reduce their environmental impact.

4. Use of drones and mapping technology: Some miners have begun using drones and mapping technology to help identify areas of high emerald concentration and to plan extraction more efficiently and sustainably.

The importance of sustainability in mining  

As awareness of sustainability grows, concern for responsible extraction of Colombian emeralds also increases. Many mining companies are implementing sustainable practices, such as reforestation of areas affected by mining and mining,

As the mining industry evolves, it is essential to ensure sustainable practices that protect both workers and the environment, ensuring that Colombian emeralds continue to be a natural and cultural treasure for many more generations.

The extraction of a Colombian emerald is a fascinating process that combines ancestral tradition with modern technology. Miners risk their lives to extract these precious gems from the depths of mines, providing the world with some of the most beautiful emeralds that exist.

Paula A. Bonilla 

Social communicator and journalist from Sergio Arboleda University in Colombia. She is also a jeweler and is passionate about constantly learning about precious gems and national high jewelry.

Currently, she is working for one of Bogotá's most important jewelry stores, Emerald by Love. This jewelry store has over 40 years of experience and has 2 physical branches in the capital city of Colombia, located in the city center.

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