Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2020, Vol. 56, No. 1

Russian Emerald

The Malysheva emerald mine in Russia.
Figure 1. The Malysheva emerald mine outside of Ekaterinburg, Russia. The giant open pit was originally mined for emerald and then beryllium. Now the mine operation is underground below the processing facility (the green building on the other side of the pit). Photo by Tao Hsu.

On the long list of emerald-producing countries, Russia is one of the more mysterious to the trade and consumers. Emerald was found in the Ural Mountains in the early nineteenth century. Malysheva was the most famous of these deposits and the world’s largest emerald producer at the start of World War I. During the Soviet era, this deposit was nationalized and mined for beryllium instead of emerald. Today, underground mining is going strong and actively producing emeralds (figure 1).

Russian emerald ranging from about 0.1 to 3 ct.
Figure 2. A collection of Russian emerald offered by Dudley Blauwet Gems. These stones range from about 0.1 to 3 ct. Photo by Tao Hsu.

At this year’s show, the authors found two exhibitors with Russian emerald ranging in quality from commercial to fine without any treatment. Dudley Blauwet Gems offered Russian emeralds from 0.1 to about 3 ct at the AGTA show. The light to slightly dark green stones were offered as singles, pairs, and sets (see figure 2 and figure 5 in the Tucson Overview). Worth noting is that most of the Russian stones the authors saw showed bright colors and high clarity.

Fine Russian emerald ranging from 1.27 to 8.38 ct.
Figure 3. A selection of fine Russian emerald from Tsarina Jewels ranging from 1.27 to 8.38 ct. All stones are natural with no filling. Photo by Kevin Schumacher.

At the GJX show, Tsarina Jewels offered Russian emeralds of larger sizes and fine quality. This exhibitor carried stones as large as 8 ct or more (figure 3). These stones also displayed a wide range of various shades of green colors. The authors noticed that Russian emeralds are still quite rare to find on the market, while emeralds from Colombia and Zambia dominate the market.

Tao Hsu and Jennifer Stone-Sundberg are technical editors for Gems & Gemology.