Rarity of Colombian Emeralds
E1525 | medium
Emerald ID: E1525
Weight: 2.54 Carats
While Colombian emeralds are definitely valuable, they are by no means a rarity on the market. Colombia supplies around 90% of the emeralds on the world market, mainly from the Muzo, Chivor, and Coscuez mines. Muzo is the oldest and most well-known, Chivor emeralds are noted for more bluish colors that are considered higher-quality, and Coscuez emeralds show various properties. Just remember that these are generalizations, not strict rules.
Brazil and Zambia make up the last 10% of the worldwide emerald demand, with Zambia being the more commercially important source of the two. Unless you go to an emerald dealer who specializes in selling emeralds from other sources, it will be tougher to not find emeralds from Colombia.
E1296 | medium
Emerald ID: E1296
Weight: 2.72 Carats
E1617 | medium
Emerald ID: E1617
Weight: 1.52 Carats
E1173 | medium | left | “Emerald ID: E1173 – Weight: 14.02 Carats – Origin: Colombia”When discussing rarity, gem quality emeralds are very rare. Miners often have to sift through tons of rock and debris before finding a handful of emeralds of varying quality. The basic gem qualities are carving grade, cabochon grade, and facet grade. Facet grade is what most people are familiar with, and what is discussed in this article. It can be years before miners find uncut emeralds large enough to be faceted into 10+ carat gems. Gems are often 2-3 times larger as an uncut stone before being faceted.
Take E1173. This is a very large emerald at 14 carats, meaning the weight of the rough, uncut emerald most likely weighed somewhere between 28-42 carats. At that size, the rough emerald probably produced a number of smaller emeralds too.
A famous and well documented example of this is the Cullinan diamond. The original gem weighed a monstrous 3,106.75 carats, and was successfully cut into 9 large pieces, followed by numerous smaller diamonds.
Unique Colombian Emeralds
Another rare feature that the Colombian mines are known for producing is the trapiche pattern. The term “trapiche” comes from a six-spoked grinding wheel, and these emeralds are almost never high-quality. They are better known to specimen collectors than to the jewelry industry. Sometimes other countries will produce trapiches, but the vast majority are attributed to Colombia.
Generally speaking, trapiche emeralds are not cut. They typically hold more value as mineral specimens than gemstone, though there are some that reach impressive quality.
The way trapiche gems grow also makes them capable of showing a cat’s eye when cut. Any trapiches used for this will most likely be weirdly formed gem-material that is of little value to specimen collectors.