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Article: Types of damage to a Colombian emerald


Types of damage to a Colombian emerald

The emerald is one of the most beautiful and appreciated gems in the jewelry world. Its impressive green color and unparalleled brightness have turned it into a very coveted gemstone. However, as with any gem, emeralds are not without damage that can affect their appearance and value.

In this article, we will delve into the different types of damage that can be found in an emerald, from natural imperfections to man-made damage, exploring the causes, consequences and possible treatments to preserve and enhance the beauty of this gem.

Natural inclusions

The inclusions are small impurities and minerals trapped inside the emerald during its formation. These inclusions can be of various types, such as minerals, liquids or gas bubbles. Some of the most common inclusions are:

  • Mica: The mica inclusions are often seen as thin bright layers in the stone. Although they can add a characteristic aspect to the emerald, they can also reduce their clarity and value.
  • Rutil: The inclusions of rutilum are golden or silver threads that cross the stone. Sometimes, these threads are organized in attractive patterns, but if they are abundant, they can affect the transparency and quality of the emerald.
  • Calcite: The calcite appears as small crystals inside the emerald and can cause opacity in the stone.

These inclusions are natural and are part of the unique identity of each emerald. Often, collectors value certain unusual inclusions that can give the gem an exceptional and distinctive appearance.

Cracks on the emeralds

Emeralds are relatively fragile stones, making them prone to cracks and breaks. The cracks can occur during geological formation or due to physical stresses during the carving process. Sometimes, emeralds can have fractures that extend from the surface to the inside of the gem, which is known as extension fractures.

Cracks and breaks can affect the durability of the emerald and compromise its structural integrity. A gem with many visible cracks or breaks may have less value on the market and require specific treatments to improve its appearance.

Damage by Extraction Process

During the process of removing emeralds, it is common for stones to suffer damage. Miners should be careful when removing emeralds from their natural matrix to avoid breaks and fractures. However, in some cases, stones can be damaged due to inexperience or lack of skill in extraction.

Damage caused by the extraction process can range from small cracks to significant breaks in the gem. Professional miners and carvings of emeralds should work carefully and accurately to minimize these risks.

Damage caused by the use and wear

The emeralds used in jewelry, such as rings and necklaces, are exposed to factors that can damage them over time. Beats, scratches and abrasions can affect the surface and clarity of the emerald. In addition, exposure to aggressive or high temperature chemicals can weaken the gem and affect its appearance.

It is essential to treat emeralds carefully and avoid use in situations where they are exposed to high-risk situations to preserve their beauty and value over time.

Consequences of Damage in an Emerald

Damage to an emerald can have several consequences, both aesthetic and economic. Some of the most important consequences are:

  • Value reduction: Visible or structural damage can significantly decrease the value of an emerald on the market. Emeralds with many inclusions, cracks or breaks can be less valued than those without these problems.
  • Impact on Clarity and Transparency: Inclusions and damage to an emerald can affect the clarity and transparency of the stone. An emerald with many imperfections can look less attractive and be less valuable than a clearer, more transparent gem.
  • Structural Integrity: Structural damage can compromise the integrity of the emerald and make it more prone to breaks or additional fractures.
  • Seller Reputation : A seller selling damaged or treated emeralds without informing shoppers can damage its reputation in the market and losing customer confidence.

Treatments for emerald damage

To address damage to an emerald, there are several possible solutions and treatments:

  • Cleaning and Polishing: A careful polish can help improve the appearance of emerald and remove small marks and surface scratches.
  • Crying filling : In some cases, cracks in an emerald can be treated with resins or oils to improve clarity and reduce visibility of imperfections.
  • Heat Treatments: Some surface damage can be treated by controlled heating techniques, which can help reduce the visibility of inclusions and improve gem color.
  • Reconstruction: In cases of significant damage, reconstruction techniques can be carried out to restore the shape and appearance of emerald.

It is important to note that some treatments may not be permanent and may require regular tweaks. In addition, it is essential that treatments be informed to shoppers in a transparent and honest manner.

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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