Belmont Emerald Mine!
The Belmont Emerald mine is located near Itabira in the state of Minas Gerais Brazil. The area is very hilly and lush and is serviced by a railway and highway. This is one of the largest emerald mines in the world and it produces a full spectrum of emerald quality and sizes ranging from smaller commercial grade goods to larger spectacular collector grade specimens worthy of a museum.
Image accessed via GIA
The mine is what we call a “schist” emerald mine, which is very similar to the schist emerald deposits of Zambia. Columbian emeralds, by contrast, are what we call “metamorphic”. The mica schist is a large rock face of tightly packed larger mica crystals stacked horizontally and right behind this is often a layer of quartz/quartzite and it is between these two layers that emeralds form. This is where the beryllium mixes with chromium that will produce an emerald. I find that emerald that forms in this small space tends to be intensively colored because the chromium is less diluted and more concentrated into a smaller space (think of lemonade, more water equals less taste, less water, more taste). Why does this happen? Here is a small lesson on emerald formation.
Emeralds are made up of two basic components, beryllium and chromium. Chromium makes emeralds green. Beryllium and chromium are “geologically incompatible” which means they never form together. The only way an emerald can form, therefore, is for these two components to be “forced” together. Chromium is often melted away due to “hydro-thermal venting” (extremely hot water and steam) and is re-deposited in another area of the earth’s crust. If that area contains beryllium, emerald is born. This is also why emerald has so many inclusions: its birth literally resulting from two components being forced together.
Belmont Emerald Mine, located in Brazil. Image accessed via GIA
The Belmont mine is large and began its life as an open pit mine (mined from the surface). It is now completely underground and the mine is so large you literally “drive” into it with large trucks and excavating vehicles. I was impressed by the scale of the operation and all the sophisticated ore crushing, sifting and separation equipment they used on the surface. It also boasts excellent safety standards; I never felt in danger when I was in the mine as it is a world class operation.
The Belmont emerald mine sells it’s rough to emerald dealers all over the world and also has its own cutting facility where it markets its own branded finished goods. The emeralds are famous for color saturation with the majority displaying a deep green hue.
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