Emeralds—Treasures from Catastrophe

Diamonds, rubies, and emeralds—the most treasured gems on earth. Each has unique qualities that require special conditions to form. Emeralds, prized for their color, are the most unlikely of all. What unique forces brought this gem to the earth’s surface for us to enjoy?

Diamonds may get all the attention, but green emeralds, like red rubies and blue sapphires, are rarer and just as valuable. They are also featured prominently in God’s Word, even more than diamonds.

For instance, God told Moses to set an emerald among the twelve precious stones, along with a sapphire and a diamond, in the high priest’s breastplate. These gems served as a perpetual reminder that each tribe of Israel was precious to God (Exodus 28:15–2139:8–14). And in John’s vision of the New Jerusalem, a sapphire and an emerald shine among the twelve foundation stones (Revelation 21:19–20).

Such rich beauty, produced by a mixture of plain ingredients, has always fascinated mankind. How were these gems produced? Can we duplicate that process?

To find clues, geologists have carefully investigated the rocks where emeralds are found. But since no human beings were present to observe how these gems were formed, finding the answers requires the correct starting assumptions. While secular geologists have done a good job cataloguing the physical clues found in the rocks, they have difficulty fully explaining the timing of the unlikely combination of chemicals and conditions that were necessary to form emeralds.

The missing clue is the Bible’s revealed history of the earth. With the Bible as their guide, creation geologists have reconstructed a story of these gems’ origin that is truly fascinating and glorifies the Creator.

What Are Emeralds?

Emerald is the clear green gem and a rare variety of the relatively rare mineral beryl.1 This fairly hard mineral is composed of four elements—beryllium, aluminum, silicon, and oxygen (Be3Al2Si6O18).

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