contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

912 Live Oak Park Rd South
Fallbrook, CA, 92028
United States

+1 (760) 728-9121

Pala International has consistently earned its reputation as the direct source for the finest colored stones.

The Jardin of Subterranean Delights: Atocha Emerald

The Jardin of Subterranean Delights: Atocha Emerald

Photos and cutting by Meg Berry (except as noted). Berry has a long career as a masterful carver of gemstones; see this 1992 profile on

The Atocha—the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha—and its vast treasures are famous the world over. Pieces of its haul have landed in the hands of collectors from around the globe. One interesting emerald crystal in particular has made its way from Colombia aboard the Atocha, then sunk in the Gulf of Mexico in 1622, discovered in the deep 363 years later, carried to dry land again, and sold to a collector—finally being given to us to cut and document the cutting process.

Emerald Crystal photo image

As you can see, the crystal began with an intense, slightly bluish-green hue. As with most emeralds the clarity was hindered by the jardin, or garden, of inclusions. The focus of this project was to simply facet the emerald without any other enhancements, leaving the garden exposed, showing its natural beauty.

Emerald on Dop Stick photo image

The process is started by adhering the crystal to the dop stick and pre-forming the basic shape of the gemstone.

Emerald Faceting photo image

Cutting the emerald into a rough shape readies the emerald for the long polishing process.

Emerald Faceting photo image

Starting with a coarse-grain polishing wheel cuts away the faces of the emerald and starts to define where the ultimate facets will be.

Emerald Faceting photo image

Gradually moving from coarse grain to finer and finer grain, the facets become more defined and lustrous.

Emerald Faceting photo image

Ultimately the emerald is buffed with an extremely fine-grain polish that gives the gem its full and lustrous beauty.

Cut Emerald photo image
Faceted emerald. Rough weight 6.79 carats. Cut weight 2.08 carats, 7.92 x 7.66 x 5.47 mm. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul)