Natural Emerald Ensemble

Kristen Baird

Natural Emerald Ensemble - Header

I love gemstones of all shapes, sizes, and colors, but every once in a while a stone comes around that is truly special. As a jeweler, it’s a privilege to work with these rare, prized gemstones, and an honor when clients trust me with what is sure to become a family heirloom. 

This magnificent natural emerald was one such case. It all started when a repeat client came to me wanting something extraordinary: a custom jewelry set for his wife, who loves emeralds. I have always been a huge proponent of lab-grown gemstones, so my immediate inclination was to start there. But as early as our first conversation, it was apparent that this couple was looking to invest in a rare natural stone. 

The Design

Natural Emerald Ensemble - inspiration

The initial design concept was fairly simple. For the necklace, the couple opted for my Seashell Sparkle Necklace in 18K yellow gold. Assuming I could find a natural emerald for her ring, we would use natural emeralds in the necklace to match. I also modified the chain to a special 20-21” adjustable length, so she could easily layer the necklace with one of her existing pieces.

Emerald Ensemble - the necklace

For the ring, the client loved the wavy band and bigger side stones of the Starry Night ring but preferred the round stone shape of the Lunar Glow, so we opted for a combination of the two designs. The next step was to find that stone!

The Elusive Natural Emerald

Emerald Ensemble - the stone

I’ve written extensively on my blog about how elusive natural emeralds are so I won’t go into great detail here. Suffice it to say that great natural emeralds are challenging to find because the stone is very soft and tends to have lots of inclusions and fractures. The pattern of inclusions and fractures is called the jardin, French for garden, and it’s part of the appeal of natural emeralds. However, if there are too many inclusions, or if they reach the surface, they can cause the stone to break or shatter. 

Round emeralds are especially hard to find because most emeralds are emerald-cut or cushion-cut. Combine that with the size of this particular stone, and I had some serious challenges ahead of me. 


We ended up going through three different vendors before finding the right stone. On multiple occasions, I thought I had found the perfect gemstone only to receive it and discover that it was cracked or had large chunks missing on the underside.  I had to send those stones back to the vendor to protect my clients. (This is why it’s so important to work with a jewelry designer you trust!) 

Finally, after several weeks of trying, we found the perfect stone: a 3.42 carat round mixed-cut, minor oil, transparent green, AGL-certified natural emerald. The vendor was kind enough to take care of the certification process for us. This paperwork was a major bonus for both insurance and investment reasons. After another 4 weeks of waiting, the stone was finally in my studio. 

Setting the Emerald

Emerald Ensemble - setting stones

Once the stone was in my studio, I built a custom six-prong setting to fit it perfectly. Once the ring was back from casting, I added my signature hand-textured details and finished the necklace. Then, it was time to set that stone. Even with all my years of jewelry experience, I’m not too proud to admit that I was just the tiniest bit nervous about setting this stone. Emeralds are infamous for shattering into a million pieces, and I’d just spent months searching for this stone. I knew everything was riding on this moment.

I waited until the boys were at school and Drew was out of the studio. Even the dog was walked and fed before getting started. Over the course of several hours, I did multiple examining sessions with my microscope, using between 10-30x magnification on every nano-millimeter, making sure there wasn’t even the slightest area that I wasn’t aware of. I knew that stone like the back of my hand. 

When it came time to set the stone, I turned off all my music and anything that could make a sound. I worked in complete silence, listing for any hints of movement or any auditory cues of stress in the prongs or the stone. Finally…

Voila! The stone went into the setting perfectly and just like that, it was on to cleaning. Due to how fragile emeralds are, I couldn’t use my usual ultrasonic cleaning method. Instead, I hand-cleaned the piece in cool water with a soft toothbrush. This took over an hour, but in the end, it was completely worth it!


After such a long journey, you can imagine this couple was over the moon to finally receive this emerald ensemble. I rushed it over to them hours before they settled in for vacation, so she could be sure to have it on her trip. 

Here’s what she had to say:

Thank you so much!  I am so pleased and thrilled with both the ring and necklace.  They are absolutely stunning.  It has been a pleasure to work with you."

The pleasure is all mine. 

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