The mining of emeralds started way back in 3500 BC in the European Alps by the ancient Romans! These ancient gemstones have been revered for their stunning beauty for centuries, so much so, that the Aztecs and Incas gave them to their gods as offerings, and chose to die, rather than tell the Spanish conquistadors where they had found the spectacular gems.

Since then, royal families from countries all over the world approached South America for supplies of the stunning green stones to embellish their crowns and jewellery.

Natural Emerald

Emerald – The Birthstone For May

Emeralds are the birthstone for May and are also used by married couples to celebrate being married for 56 years. Many couples prefer to have emeralds in their engagement rings, instead of diamonds.

Emeralds have, since ancient times, been admired for their mystical charm and outstanding beauty. The striking colour of this deep, alluring gemstone, is unrivaled in its beauty. Its various hues of vibrant greens resemble the grassy meadows, evergreen forests, and rolling hills of Mother Nature. This is a perfect fit since green is the colour usually associated with wealth, prosperity, renewal, detoxification, and health.

emerald and diamond 18 carat white gold ring

The Enchanting History Of Emeralds Over The Centuries

Emeralds are part of the beryl family of gems and are also close relatives of morganite and aquamarine. The coveted rich green colour occurs from tiny amounts of vanadium and/or chromium that are present when the gems are formed, which takes place deep inside the earth.

The word “emerald” is derived from “esmaralde” a French word that comes from “smaragdos” a Greek word and translates to “green stone.”

These breath-taking gems are famous for being the favourite of Cleopatra and were worn by the ancient Romans and Greeks as jewellery. The earliest emerald mine on record is situated in Egypt, in the Wadi Sikait valley, where it is believed that mining began in the first century BC.

The green gemstones were first discovered during the 16th century, in South America, by Spanish conquistadors as they explored the New World when they invaded the area. It was centuries before this, however, that the Incas had admired emeralds for their sheer beauty.

It was also during this time, that the gems became prized possessions of India’s Mogul emperors, who believed the gems to be powerful amulets that gave the wearer the protection of the gods and banished demons.

The Meaning And Mythology Of Emeralds

There is a variety of different meanings stemming from different cultures and beliefs surrounding emeralds.

According to classical mythology, emeralds are attributed to the goddess of love, Venus, the reason for the gems frequent connection to romance.

Emeralds are also sometimes called “the stone of successful love” and is believed to encourage passion, domestic bliss, and loyalty, as well as creating feelings of sensitivity and helping to calm confronting emotions.

raw emerald

Legend has it that wearing an emerald will enable the person to foretell the future and bring the truth out into the open.

Some people also believe that the green gemstone improves intelligence and memory, and others again, that the gem has healing powers to cure illness.

Fascinating Facts About Emeralds

Apart from being breathtakingly beautiful sought-after gemstones, there are also some interesting facts surrounding emeralds. For instance:

  • Emeralds Are NOT Always Green

This might seem strange, considering the name of the stone, but emeralds, in fact, have a variety of colours. The colours of emeralds can range from pale green hues to deep greens, with deep green emeralds being the most expensive and sought after. The range of these lovely colours is the result of the precise amounts of trace elements, vanadium iron, and chromium inside the stone.

  • The Cut Of The Gem Is Key

The cut of a stone governs the colour that you see in jewellery. An experienced gemmologist by giving a stone a deep cut and fewer facets (the flat surfaces on a gem), can make a pale stone look darker in colour, or make a shallow cut and more facets, to give a dark stone a lighter appearance. Many gems are prepared with a specific cut called “the emerald cut,” an iconic style used to bring out the best in emeralds.

  • Emeralds Are Rarer Than Diamonds, And Often More Expensive Too

For many people, diamonds are the first gemstones that come to mind at the mention of expensive gems, when in actual fact, it is the exquisite emerald that is one of the rarest stones on earth, with most of them often having a price tag to match.

large emerald ring

As mentioned earlier, emeralds are part of the beryl family of gemstones and are mined in all countries of the world, including Africa, and South, and Central America. However, emeralds are extremely scarce, as there are only limited numbers of large or high-quality emeralds available even in the most established mines in the world.

  • Emeralds Are The Favourite Gemstone Of The Royal Family

It was most likely because of this rarity that led to Cleopatra reportedly loving the gem so much, that to make sure that she owned all of them, she took over all the emerald mines in Egypt.

The British crown too, is adorned with some of the most exquisite emeralds in the world.

Queen of the silver screen, Elizabeth Taylor, was often seen on the red carpet wearing her spectacular emerald pendant, which she sold in 2011, for a staggering $6.5 million.

  • Emeralds, Unlike Diamonds, Are NOT All About Clarity

Clarity plays an important role in the cost of an individual diamond, whereas in emeralds, on the other hand, inclusions are viewed as desirable features. Inclusions in emeralds form beautiful patterns in the gem, referred to in the industry as the emerald’s garden, or jardin.

These inclusions and patterns are so unique, that they can actually result in the value of the gem increasing significantly.

With diamonds, inclusions can only be seen under a magnifying glass, unlike emeralds, where inclusions can be evaluated with the naked eye, eliminating the necessity for specialist equipment.

In Conclusion

Emeralds, with their outstanding beauty have remained popular throughout the centuries, surpassing other green-coloured gems like the lush blue-green tourmaline and peridot, with its intense green shimmer.

Admired by emperors, conquerors, and royalty alike, emeralds are still to this day revered by people all over the world, and will more than likely continue to do so for centuries to come.  You can view our collections of fine emerald jewellery here

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May 02, 2022 — CG Hart