— Michelle B.
— Harriet Lamb, CEO of Fairtrade International
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Emeralds have been enchanting human beings for thousands of years. In the year 4,000 BC, they were being sold in the markets of Babylon. Aztecs designated the emerald the stone of the sacred Quetzal— a bird featuring similar colors to the gem. Aristotle wrote that the emerald held power to give one a strong presence during business speeches, and to provide victory in trial. He also linked the gem to improved vision.
Though considered by many people even more dramatic than diamonds, couples are reluctant to choose them for an engagement ring because of their reputation for being soft. Emeralds have a reputation for breaking, and many jewelers will not set emeralds simply because the stone can crack. Yet, emeralds do have a respectable hardness, ranging from 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale. (For reference, diamond is rated at 10.) With emeralds, difficulties stem from fissures more often than hardness.
In fact, an emerald is perfectly suitable for an engagement ring. The ancients associated emeralds with the planet Venus. They were held to be a gauge for love— turning deeper and richer when love was strong, and waning with the fall of romance.
The finest deep green emeralds have traditionally been sourced from Colombia. There, some of the emerald fields are so vast that they will continue to be mined for thousands of years. When some sources were linked to organized crime, we sought out other emeralds from locations we could more easily trace from mine to market: in Zambia and Afghanistan.
Zambia now produces emeralds comparable to the finest Colombian gems. One of the sites we have traditionally sourced from is located ten hours from a paved road, and is only accessible with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Fifteen members of a local tribe work here, and the income they receive from mining enables them to pay for a wide range of services— from basic food and education to AIDS pharmaceuticals.
Our second source of emeralds is the Kama Safed Mine in Khenj Village, Afghanistan— located in the Panjshar Valley. Afghani emeralds are lighter in color than the dark green gems from Zambia, and can be described as having a watery-green shade.
Emerald mining provides the best means of survival for many people throughout the world— including those working at both mines we source from. In both cases, our supplier purchases these stones directly from the miners— and pays them top dollar. From there, our emeralds are cut just outside of Tel Aviv, Israel— in a small facility specializing in emeralds.