Emerald has one of the longest histories of all gemstones. The first known emerald mines were in southern Egypt and were operated from before 1000 BC into the 1700's. This is a testament to the high value people have placed on emeralds for many centuries as the work was hard and dangerous and the stones small and poor by today's standards. Treasured for at least 4,000 years by different cultures all around the world, emerald is said to quicken the intelligence as well as the heart. Legend gives its owner the gift of eloquence.
In contrast to other beryl gemstones, emerald is typically heavily flawed with cracks and inclusions of fluid and minerals. These inclusions are called "jardin" (or garden) as they typically resemble leaves and branches. These characteristics are not looked upon as negative aspects for emerald as they would be for other gemstones. Indeed, these inclusions are considered part of the character of the stone and are used to assure the purchaser that the stone is genuine. Because emeralds are so rare without inclusions, some inclusions are expected and do not detract from the value of the stone as much as with other gemstones. Most emeralds on the market today have been treated with various types of oil or resin to improve their appearance.
Emeralds are cut in Jaipur, India and Tel-Aviv, Israel as well as in the mining countries, such as Brazil. Emerald is one of the most difficult gemstones to cut because of the high value of the rough stone and the many inclusions found in crystals. Small changes in orientation can make a large difference in the final appearance of the gem. Skilled craftsman who specialize in cutting emerald can be found in cities around the world for jewelers who insist on having stones perfected for the optimum brilliance and vibrancy.