Columbia is the exporter of top quality Emeralds, my experience buying an Emerald in Columbia was very interesting!
My dentist, Jackie, is Colombian and also a very good friend of mine. I visited Colombia with her last year – what a beautiful country!
Of course, first on my list was a visit to “Museo de la Esmeralda” (Emerald Museum) in Bogotá, I couldn’t travel all the way to the land of emeralds without a visit to this museum! The museum celebrates the beauty of Emeralds and also explores their history. Emerald has become the symbol for Columbia… I will tell you all about the museum in a later article.
Jackie and I were very impressed by what we saw at the Emerald Museum and as we left Jackie realised she had no jewellery with Columbian Emerald – so we set about buying one. I reminded Jackie of all the gorgeous Columbian emerald designs in our Juwelo and Rocks & Co collections, but she said there was something romantic about buying a Columbian Emerald while in Columbia. I am not a particularly romantic person, I favour more practical approaches, but as we were already in Columbia… why not buy a Columbian Emerald!
Buying an Emerald in Columbia
The first thing we did was approach Jackie’s family members, friends and acquaintances asking where to buy a beautiful emerald in Bogotá. We were so surprised when we hear their answer… that they too had never bought a Columbian Emerald!
Not discouraged we walked to a beautiful neighbourhood called “La Candelaria” and began our pilgrimage through the many jewellery stores found there. Our visits were long, Jackie looked over the Emeralds but I was interested in discussing with the experts. One expert told me about the importance of colour in Columbian Emeralds, a slight bluish or yellow colour would drastically decrease the value.
Another expert explained to me that since 2008 the “Centro de Desarrollo de la tecnológico Esmeralda Colombiana” (Technological Development Center of the Colombian emerald) certifies all Emeralds to avoid scams. This certificate means that if a tourist returns home and finds out that their Emerald was not as promised, they can go to the Columbian embassy and file charges. Another jeweller told me that this certificate has become indispensable because there had been so many cases of fake emeralds in the preceding years. Buyers no longer need to be professionals to notice deception immediately. The certificate is a good thing for both buyers and sellers.
One word that kept popping up in our talks was “Muzo”, every time we were presented with an especially beautiful specimen it was explained as a ‘Muzo Emerald’. The Emeralds from the Muzo region in the province of Boyacá are the most sought Emeralds in the world. These gems have been mined there for several centuries before the Spanish conquest of the Muzo Indians. These Indians have gone down in history as being very rebellious and courageous. It took the Spaniards 20 years to subdue the Muzo Indians. Today Muzo Emerald is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest Emeralds.
I realised that all the people that we talked to about purchasing Emeralds only talked of foreigners and tourists: Jackie was a little angry and she repeatedly stressed that she was Columbian. We were confronted with the statistics that most Columbian Emeralds are bought from New York and Tokyo. Every year new and old gem hunters from Europe and Asia to buy Columbian Emeralds. Selling to private international buyers is more of the exception than the rule.
The advantages of the new technology
We finally found a gorgeous Emerald that was everything Jackie had imagined. An Emerald from Muzo, of overwhelming beauty and outstanding luminosity. The expert put the gem through laser investigation before our eyes so we could see the degree of quality of this gem. We again came across the issue that not many Emeralds remain in the local market. The jeweller told us ‘The most beautiful Colombian emeralds are to be seen in the windows of the best jewellers in the world, For that is the world in which we live, a world in which the best wine, the best tea, the best ebony, the best ham, the best silk and the best diamonds are all for export’
This made Jackie, my dentist, really angry. When we walked into a café later that day she told me “It may be that the best coffee machines from Italy, but the best coffee from Colombia and … look around you! All who are here are real Colombians! You’re the only foreigner here!” I laughed and though of the gorgeous examples of Emeralds Juwelo and Rocks & Co offer people from all over the world … Colombians included!