‘My precious, my precious,' said Gollum, romancing the ring in his hand. Buyers, connoisseurs, traders in India seem to be mirroring the Lord of the Rings character's affection for the precious emerald. In the last few years, the price of the coloured gemstone has reportedly gone up several notches, consciously increasing demand in the market. “There are very few mines which yield good quality emeralds — the major ones being Colombian and Zambian ones. Which is why the demand for emeralds is very high — in the last few years the rates have doubled and a lot of people are buying it from an investment perspective,” says Ishu Datwani of Anmol Jewellers, who has developed a personal fascination with the elegant gemstone over the last few years.
Rupak Sen, regional marketing head of Gemsfield, who auctions emeralds at Jaipur every year, gives us a clearer picture of the value and demand of emeralds. “Owing to the price appreciation of emeralds, 99% of the stones that are put up for bidding are bought. And just for example, if someone bought an emerald in 2009, it would now possibly cost five times its value. So, we can safely say that in the last few years the demand and price appreciation of the stone has increased eight times!” he says. In comparison to other precious and popular stones, the emerald is known to be softer than a diamond, but harder than quartz, which implies that the stone is prone to chipping and breaking if not handled with care. “In terms of hardness of the stone, let's say diamonds are a 10/10 while emerald will be 7/10,” says Rupak.
Considering the rarity of emeralds, who are the people who go for this expensive deal? “Nowadays we see emeralds being bought for their aesthetic value by connoisseurs but they're also bought as an investment,” says Varuna D Jani, a jewellery designer. She also adds that international celebrities have started using colour in their jewellery because she feels this adds colour to their sense of otherwise subtle dressing style. Rupak says that nowadays, youngsters buy emerald rings instead of diamonds as engagement rings because they signify their support to the 'green movement'!
So, how does one pick out the best of them? Varuna warns customers that buying emeralds can be tricky and should be done with careful observation, considering all the parameters. “The more intense and transparent the colour, the lesser the inclusions, the better the quality,” adds Ishu. “Only a gemstone expert can identify the purity of an emerald, specially when one is buying expensive pieces because a lot of them are treated with resins,” he says. Rupak agrees that emeralds should always be bought with proper certification because of this problem. he cautions people to be careful of this because they are a natural stone and should retain their natural colour. “The shades of green can differ according to your taste but always make sure that you're buying a natural piece,” he says.
The reason for the rarity of the stone, feel these experts, is that there are not enough mines, where emeralds are found. “Historically gemstones like rubies, sapphires, and even emeralds are always found in areas that are not conducive for mining. Rubies were found in Burma, the best of the sapphires in Kashmir and emeralds in
Colombia. It seems as though for the coming generation, emeralds will only be available through already existent trade or personal handing down of the stone,” says Rupak.