Emerald is the deep green color variety of the mineral known as beryl. To be an emerald, a beryl must have a rich green color that ranges between bluish green, green, and slightly yellowish green. Pale green specimens and those outside of the required color range should be called "green beryl."
Today, emerald, together with ruby and sapphire, generate more economic activity than all of the other colored gemstones combined. In many years, the dollar value of emeralds imported into the United States exceeds the value of ruby and sapphire combined.
Emerald is only found in a few locations worldwide. It is found only in those rocks where enough beryllium to produce beryl was present at the same time that chromium or vanadium were present to give the gem its color. As a result, most of the world's emeralds are mined in just four countries: Colombia, Zambia, Brazil, and Zimbabwe. In the United States, a few occurrences of emerald have been found in North Carolina.
Emerald is rare, it has a very high price, and natural emeralds are usually marked with fractures and abundant inclusions. In response, laboratory-created emeralds are now more abundant in mall and department store jewelry displays than natural stones. Consumers enjoy their visually perfect clarity and exceptional color, along with a price that is a fraction of what would be paid for natural stones of similar color, size, and clarity. They have the same chemical, physical, and optical characteristics as natural emeralds.
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Green garnets? Most people have never heard of tsavorite and would be surprised to learn that it is a green garnet. Tsavorite has a wonderful bright green color, and its clarity is superior to emeralds of much higher price for a similar-size gem.
Tsavorite was discovered in 1967 near the community of Lemshuko in northeastern Tanzania. The prospectors who found it tried to get government permission to open a mine but were denied. So, they searched for similar rock units in neighboring parts of Kenya and discovered tsavorite there in 1971.
The gem was first promoted by Tiffany and Company, who gave it the name "tsavorite" - what a cool name! It was named after Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, near where the gem was first mined. Tsavorite has become a gem that is desirable in its own right and serves as an alternative gem for emerald. It is less expensive than emerald, but has a higher clarity and is more resistant to breaking. It is a little softer than emerald but hard enough to be used in almost any type of jewelry.