Emerald (beryllium aluminum silicate) is a variety of the mineral Beryl with a vivid green color caused by Chromium, and occasionally Vanadium inclusions. This exceptionally beautiful crystal has a long history, befitting one of the world's oldest gems. Emerald is formed by traumatic events in the earth's crust (more on this below), and the age of deposits can vary widely - at one end of the scale are African crystals, notably from Zimbabwe, which formed at least 2,600 million years ago and at the other end, Pakistan's relative youngsters are 'just' 9 million years old.
Emerald could be called a freak of nature, or at least of geology. Beryl is naturally colorless, with color variations caused by chemical impurities present while the crystal is forming. Emerald takes its color from chromium and vanadium, but in nature these elements don't form anywhere close to deposits of Beryl, so the only way to make genuine Emerald is to smash the Earth's crust violently enough to throw Chromium, Vanadium and Beryl together, muddle them up, bury the lot and let nature take its course.
This traumatic birth means that Emerald is a highly included gem - almost all natural stones will have scratches, flaws and inclusions to some degree. Large pieces of Emerald crystal are very rare indeed and large fine pieces are more valuable than Diamond by weight. Marks and inclusions that would affect the value of other gems are tolerated in cut Emeralds. Small, fine inclusions don't affect value as much as the intensity of color, and an included dark Emerald will be more valuable than a flawless, pale one. In the gem industry each stone's collection of flaws is endearingly known as its jardin (garden). Gemologists and magic users both share the sentiment that an Emerald's flaws are part of its beauty, adding to its charm like laughter lines on a face.
Emerald can form in a wide range of green and green-blue shades, and generally the greener the stone the more valuable it is. The world's finest come from Colombia, and their exceptional transparency, fire and color set the standards that other Emeralds are judged by. Colombian Emerald has a unique color, a fine, shining green with no hint of blue that is so highly valued that even obvious flaws are acceptable in a cut stone. The country's mines also produce rarities like Trapiche Emeralds (trapiche is a grinding wheel), with a 6-rayed star emanating from the center of the stone that is caused by dark carbon impurities.
Colombia boasts at least 150 deposits, the best known being Muzo and Chivor, both of which have been mining gems since pre-Colombian times and were a source of Emerald to the Inca. The most commercially important mine, Coscuez, produces about three quarters of the country's supply. Colombia's neighbor Brazil produces fine crystals, with occasional cat's eye and 6-ray stars. Outside South America and Africa, where recent new finds are keeping the market well stocked, Emerald deposits are also found in Madagascar, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Australia and Russia.
Emerald, with its rich green color and scintillating sparkle, has always been a very popular and precious gemstone. In the ancient world it was sacred to Goddesses of love and nature, and the Romans record it as the sacred stone of Venus. This tradition continues today, with Emerald still being a favorite stone for love and sex magic. It is believed to be especially useful in spells to encourage faithfulness or bring home a straying lover. If your lover gives you an Emerald as a gift it is said the stone will crack or fade if he or she is ever unfaithful to you.
Emerald is used in sex magic to encourage passion and arousal, overcome shyness and inhibitions and increase fertility. When worn as a talisman it is said to protect against violence, abuse and rape and Emerald is a powerful healing stone for the trauma of such attacks. Emerald also has a special link with the Crone Goddess, and when worn by a woman who has passed the menopause it is said to help her develop her psychic, magical and artistic abilities.
Magically, Emerald also represents time and the astral planes. Most of us have trouble living in the magical moment of 'now' because we are too busy remebering the past or dreaming about the future. Emerald can teach you to focus your attention in the present and live each moment to the fullest. Meditation and magical work with the crystal is believed to help you remember that you can move through time with ease, allowing you to work more effectively on the astral planes, access the Akashic records (the 'imprint' that all living things have made on the Universe through time) and meet with beings that inhabit other worlds.
In ancient Egypt Emerald was sacred to the Goddess Isis and symbolized resurrection. In many cultures it was buried with the dead or placed among their funeral wrappings in order to ensure a safe passage through the other-worlds and a fortunate reincarnation.
Working with Emerald can help enhance your intuitive and prophetic powers, memory, eloquence and communication skills. It is said to develop inner strength and wisdom and help you make the most of your unique skills and talents. As a charm, Emerald is said to draw good things to its bearer, including happiness, friends, good fortune, creativity and energy. Wearing the stone or drinking an Emerald gem elixir will help you get the best results from any psychic or magical work you are performing.