Emeralds are gemstones from the beryl family. Rough emerald deposits are typically found in metamorphic rocks, and their unique greenish hue attracts people from all walks of life. There was once even an ancient decree passed that only royalty and nobles were allowed to wear such an extravagant jewel.
Fortunately, times have changed. These days, anyone can freely purchase and enjoy quality emeralds from any number of countries.
Rough Emeralds, Then & Now
In ancient days, rough emeralds came from Egypt. Queen Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Egypt, was a true devotee of this precious stone. Mines near the Red Sea were even named after the captivating queen, because of her intense love for this rare and beautiful jewel.
During the mid-1600’s, Spain discovered Muzo, the Indians’ secret mine for rough emeralds. The largest mines of rough emeralds were found hidden deep in the Andes mountain ranges.
What are the Top Emerald Mining Countries of the World?
Rough emeralds are mined all around the world. However, there are a few countries that stand out in the production of these stones. Here’s a look at the top mining countries for rough emeralds:
- Colombia. The mountain ranges of the Andes are located in Colombia. There are three major mines in this region: Muzo, Chivor and Coscuez. Two of these mines are leased by the government to private companies.
- Brazil. The emerald mines of Brazil are located in the states of Bahia, Minas Gerais and Goias. Some say they are now producing rough emeralds that well rival the ones mined in Colombia.
- Zambia. The majority of the gems produced in Zambia are found in the Kamakanga and Kagem mines. Both are found in the northeastern region of the country.
- Zimbabwe. This country produces rough emeralds from the Sandawana mine, located in the southwest of the country. Emerald production here is not as high compared to some other countries.
- United States. Beaver County, Utah is home of rough emerald production in the US. The mines are located in the eastern slopes of the Wah Wah Mountains.
What are the Distinguishing Characteristics of Emeralds from Different Countries?
Colombian rough emeralds are highly prized because of their deep green color. Emeralds of dark green are generally much rarer. These emeralds are found only in the deepest part of the Andes ranges.
Brazil produces rare cat’s-eye emeralds and very rare six-spoke star emeralds. No other country has ever produced such a magnificent type of rough emerald.
Zambia is known for mining deep green rough emeralds, similar to those found in Colombian mines. The finest stones they have are clear, grass-green in color but somewhat smaller than the darker ones.
Zimbabwe’s rough emeralds are small in size, but are some of the finest. Their color is bright green, with warm yellowish undertones.
The United States is the only country to produce one of the world’s rarest gemstones: the Red Emerald. These are only four carats, but more rare and more expensive than diamonds.
If you have the same passion for rough emeralds as Queen Cleopatra, you should take care to purchase stones that are highly graded. When it comes to emeralds, the world is your oyster. So to speak…!
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