A Closer Look at Malysheva Emeralds

A Closer Look at Malysheva Emeralds

In July 2006, at the invitation of Canada's Tsar Emerald Corp., the AGTA GTC's Richard Hughes visited the famous Malysheva emerald and alexandrite deposit outside Yekaterinburg, Russia. Following that visit, Tsar Emerald provided the AGTA GTC with a number of both rough and cut emerald specimens for complete gemological examination. What follows are some brief preliminary findings.

Russian emerald crystals

A group of emerald crystals from Russia's Malysheva emerald mine. Specimens courtesy of Tsar Emeralds Corp.; photo: Wimon Manorotkul/Pala International.

     The Malysheva emerald mine has been mined since 1831, principally for the element beryllium, with the gem emerald and alexandrite being a byproduct of that mining.
     We found the gemological features of the current production to be consistent with those previously reported in the gemological literature (see Schmetzer, 1991). Below are a few photomicrographs that illustrate the major inclusion features. A full article on the deposit will be forthcoming.

mica inclusions Lathe-shaped flakes of phlogopite mica spin through the green depths of a Malysheva emerald. Specimen courtesy of Tsar Emeralds Corp.; photo: John Koivula

amphibole needles While comparatively rare, amphibole needles are a feature of some Malysheva emeralds, as shown in this photomicrograph produced in polarized light. Specimen courtesy of Tsar Emeralds Corp.; photo: John Koivula

thin films One of the most diagnostic features seen was thin liquid films lying on the basal plane, seen here with both reflected and transmitted light. Specimen courtesy of Tsar Emeralds Corp.; photo: John Koivula

Further reading

  • Laskovenkov, A.F. and Zhernakov, V.I. (1995) An update on the Ural emerald mines. Gems & Gemology, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 106–113.
  • Schmetzer, K., Bernhardt, H.-J., Biehler, R. (1991) Emeralds from the Ural Mountains, USSR. Gems & Gemology, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 86–99.

About the authors


John Koivula

John I. Koivula is one of the world's most famous gemologists and photomicrographers. Author of several books, he was also the scientific advisor to the famous MacGyver television series.


Richard Hughes in Tibet
Richard Hughes
(left) is the author of the classic Ruby & Sapphire and over 100 articles on various aspects of gemology. Many of his writings can be found at www.ruby-sapphire.com.


First published in September 2006, while John and I were at the AGTA GTC. Working with John was one of the greatest pleasures of my life, sadly far too brief. Looking back, I can only wonder what might have been…


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Posted 14 October, 2011; last updated 7 March, 2013