The Ural Emerald Mines are world-renowned mining regions - having the richest berillium ore and emerald, alexandrite and phenakite deposits in Russia. These mines are a mineralogical complex of deposits, ore developments and mineral associations, genetically connected with the Aduiskii granite massif and spatially concentrated in one seam within the limits of the eastern exocontact.
The UEM are not only of industrial and economic significance (they are the only supplier of emeralds and alexandrites in Russia) but they also are in demand among numerous collectors, museums and educational institutions all over the world.
Moreover, the mines are of great cultural and informational importance - the history of the UEM is one of the finest chapters in the development of the Urals.
The Ural Emerald Seam is found in the submeridian direction from latitude of Rezhik in the south to the Malii Reft River in the north. The mines include 35 deposits (including the rich Mariinskoye, Troitskoe and Sretenskoe) of gemstones and other rare metals.
The UEM’s have been known since the Scythian epoch but they were recently re-discovered in 1830 when the peasant Maxim Kozhevnikov found green stones of a hexahedron shape in the roots of a grubbed up tree in a deep pine forest at the Tokovaia river. In 1831 the period of emerald exploration began consisting of three stages: 1831 – 1899, 1899 – 1923, and 1923 –1985.
The first stage was characterized at first by active prospecting and by an abundance of extractions, however, was noted by an absence of results. At that time the Ural Emerald Mines were property of His Emperial Majesty’s Cabinet. The prospecting and extraction of emeralds was headed at first, by I. I. Weiz, then by I.Greving (1853 - 1855) and later by P. I. Miklashevskiy (from 1862). From 1831 through to 1853 141 poods 33 pounds and 93 zolotniks of emeralds were extracted. By the end of this period the mines had been leased to private concerns because of low productivity. From 1899 till 1915 the leaseholder of the mines was the Anglo-French New Emerald Company. The result of its 15-year work surpassed all expectations and according to different sources the company exported to Europe 6.6 to 14.5 tons of emeralds. Its work was remarkable for the integrated method of deposit processing. They extracted emerald, alexandrite, aquamarine, phenakite and even kaolin.
During the Soviet period, Ural Emerald Mines prospecting was characterized by the planned exploration and full-blooded scientific researches - the works being mainly at the Mariinskoye deposit.