It’s currently Wednesday, the astrological day of Mercury, and I’m sitting in our showroom inspecting a parcel of emeralds that just arrived. Emerald is Mercury’s primary Jyotish gemstone and Mercury rules over writing and communication in astrology. It seemed fitting to write about this experience on my iPhone as I go about my work today.
Our resident gemologist Tarah is currently out on maternity leave (congratulations to Tarah and baby Caroline!) so Buttercup, Astrological Gem’s head of security, is sitting with me as we start.
Emeralds are extremely difficult to buy. It took Jay, the owner of our company (and one of the most well-known gem dealers in the world) over 10 years to be able to buy them himself. He knew he’d make costly mistakes if he tried without a lot of experience under his belt. They’re a “Type 3” gemstone which means they always possess some degree of inclusions due to how they’re formed in the earth. Being able to assess which inclusions are acceptable for Jyotish and which aren’t, as well as what a competitive buying price is for top quality material, is a skill that only comes with many years of practice in the trade.
One of the unique things about our business is that we only keep a small percentage of the stones we get in. Our long-time trusted suppliers send us their very best goods and we select the very best of that selection.
Today’s shipment contains fine Colombian emeralds of a lighter minty-green color. We’re looking for premium clarity material – known as “crystal” in the industry – and we want it to be relatively affordable, stones we can sell to our customers for $3,000 or less. I really like this range of color for Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius ascendants. Air signs report excellent results with it.
One of the first gems to catch my eye is a little oval emerald. It has good color, is nearly eye-clean, and has the energetic quality of “sweetness” that we look for in a sattvic Jyotish gemstone.
The next step is to look at it with a loupe. All emeralds look pretty scary when viewed under 10x magnification so we need to assess what we are seeing relative to emerald material – this means that we can’t compare what we’re about to see with Jyotish-quality sapphires or diamonds. Different minerals can’t be graded on the same clarity scale. Again, all emeralds possess some form of inclusions, so our job is to make sure these inclusions pass our very strict criteria for Vedic Astrology.
It’s a completely different reality under magnification, isn’t it? Emerald dealers never loupe their own stones for this reason and they get uncomfortable when they see us doing it. But the inclusions I’m seeing in this little gem are actually passable for Jyotish. There are no fissures that break the surface and no black spots that prohibit light from flowing properly through the stone.
I’ve picked out another emerald that I like. I mistakenly estimate its weight to be around 1.8 or 1.9 carats. I put it on our scale and find out it barely breaks 1 carat! Emeralds can be deceptive like this. Their specific gravity is lower than that of a ruby or a diamond, making them appear larger than some of the other gem types.
Here’s a ruby and an emerald that both weigh about the same but look significantly different in size.
Jay and I discuss our size criteria for emeralds. We generally recommend a minimum of 2 carats for Jyotish but our customers have been reporting significant results with smaller weights. It makes sense that a ruby or a diamond begins to display results around 1ct, they are energetically concentrated and very hard gem types. It’s surprising on some level that 1ct emeralds are working well for people too. Looking at this emerald on my hand next to a ruby, I wonder if the fact that it takes up more physical space allows it to not need to weigh as much as the more energetically concentrated, denser Jyotish gemstones.
I now have two emeralds side-by-side that cost the same amount per carat. The one on the left has a darker color and feels relatively good to me but the one on the right has the “crystal” quality that we’re looking for. I wonder if the stone on the left can be acceptable for our purposes. How does it look under magnification?
This emerald has a lovely color and a pretty good energetic profile but unfortunately it’s too included for our market. I suspect the light and energetic frequency that is transmitted through this stone will be dulled or distorted because it’s not clean enough.
What about its friend, the stone it was sitting next to?
This gem is a beauty. It looks great to the naked eye. Let’s take a look at it under magnification.
Using the loupe, I find black inclusions in the stone. Light can’t pass through black inclusions meaning they’re not acceptable for Jyotish, no matter how small they are. The commercial market refers to little black specks in emeralds as “pepper,” an endearing term and an important seasoning in food but something we will always pass on when buying emeralds for Vedic Astrology.
My preliminary screening of this shipment is complete. Next Jay will look at these options to narrow down the selection from here. I have a good eye and intuitive talent for buying Jyotish gems but have never chosen an emerald without a second (and often third) opinion. They are so tricky, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and this is the one gem type I still don’t feel comfortable buying on my own – even after 12 years of working here.
Jay weighs out the stones I’ve chosen and inspects them with a loupe himself, eliminating one immediately that he isn’t particularly fond of. I agree with his discrimination, that stone was the biggest in the shipment but it didn’t have the best color. Jay selects a couple options with great color that I originally passed on, determining that their clarity is in fact okay for our purposes. We whittle down the top contenders until we finalize a small selection that we both agree upon. Jay will make a final purchase offer on these emeralds before we send the rest back.
This particular emerald has us in debate at the moment. We’ve never sold a gem with this cut before but it’s caught my attention and Jay likes it too. It’s super clean, has good color, and is really quite unique overall. It would make a nice pendant, maybe with a small diamond set on top. We’re not sure if we should take the risk on it or not as it’s not a common shape for us.
What do you think, should we buy this gem too?