Emerald Update with Arthur Groom
At the 2019 AGTA GemFair in Tucson, Eternity Natural Emerald (Ridgewood, New Jersey) had emeralds up to 50 ct on display. Eternity’s president, Arthur Groom, noted that the Afghanistan emerald melee sets (figure 1) had drawn the most interest. This rough melee is particularly attractive, he said, because of its higher brilliance than stones from other sources. “The Afghanistan melee is the brightest in its natural state when it’s cut properly,” he said. “Afghanistan emerald will rival Colombian any day of the week.”
Eternity has experimented with melee from different sources but finds Afghanistan melee the most plentiful and consistent. The company currently cuts Afghanistan emeralds in sizes from 1 mm to 70 ct, disproving the perception in the trade that the country produces only small emeralds. Groom pointed out that vibrant greens are not as easy to find in gems as other colors, and tsavorite is often used for green, but Eternity’s emeralds offer the option to use one of the “Big Three” gemstones. Eternity also sources emerald rough from Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil, and Zambia.
Cutting and mounting emerald melee has traditionally been challenging because of emerald’s tendency for inclusions and fractures, and its typical enhancements. Most jewelry manufacturers do not like working with it, Groom said. Eternity has solved this problem after many years of effort, he said, producing “a finely made emerald that you can work with confidence and will never change.” Eternity’s enhancement process allows the stones to be cleaned in ultrasonic and steam cleaners with no adverse effects (traditional enhancement substances tend to alter over time).
Eternity has cut thousands of carats of rough and developed master sets of colors and clarities. They are able to fulfill orders for thousands of stones at a time. The emeralds are cut to exact proportions; the average weight retention is about 15 percent. “You can’t be concerned with how much weight you’ll lose,” Groom said. In the past, manufacturers would buy a parcel of stones of different sizes, dimensions, and colors and find some stones unusable, but they can now buy stones of the same color, clarity, and size. Along with melee, the company offers cabochons and calibrated (figures 2 and 3) and faceted stones, in qualities from commercial-grade to very fine and at all price points. Groom showed us a set of calibrated emeralds (figure 3) ideal for a premium bracelet.
One of Eternity’s aims is to promote Afghanistan emerald and country of origin. “The miner has to benefit from this,” Groom said, “and this is one of our goals in Afghanistan.” In our 2013 interview with Groom, he said Afghanistan’s emerald resources are such that if the country were to see peace, acquire investors, and mechanize its mining operations, it would “outproduce the world.”
Groom believes in promoting country of origin not because it adds value but because it adds identity to the stone. “We all know about Colombian emerald,” he said. “But just because the emerald comes from Colombia doesn’t make it more valuable. We just manufactured a 24 ct Tajik stone that sold for close to half a million dollars. You have to take the stone on its merit.”