Emeralds: The Lush Green Gem of May
Discover the World's Most Famous Emeralds
If you're a gemstone enthusiast, you won't want to miss our guide to the most famous emeralds in the world. From ancient treasures to modern-day masterpieces, we've curated a list of the most valuable and sought-after emeralds on the planet.
In honour of the start of the month of May, we're taking a brief look at the most famous historical emeralds (the birthstone of May)
What is an Emerald?
Emeralds are green precious gemstones that are known for their distinct color. The term "emerald" comes from the Greek word smaragdos, which means "green stone." An emerald's hue can range from light to dark green, but it must be pure enough that no other colors are visible when you look at it in daylight or under artificial light.
Emeralds have been prized since ancient times; they were mined in Egypt and Mesopotamia as early as 3,000 B.C., and were used by Egyptian pharaohs to decorate their tombs with them (and also wore them on their bodies). In fact, there's evidence that Cleopatra herself wore an emerald ring!
Where Do Emeralds Come From?
Emeralds are a type of beryl, which is one of the most common minerals on Earth. The name "beryl" comes from the ancient Greek word for "beryllos", or "to shine brightly". Emeralds are typically green in color, but they can also be bluish-green or yellowish-green. They're most often found in Colombia and Brazil where they were first discovered by European explorers in the 16th century.
Emeralds are also mined in Zambia and Zimbabwe; however these countries don't produce as many emeralds as Colombia does because they don't have as much experience mining them yet (they only started doing so recently).
History of Emeralds
Emeralds have been used in jewelry and adornment since the ancient times. They were prized by the Egyptians and Romans, who believed that emeralds had healing properties and could protect against evil spirits. The ancient Greeks thought that emeralds were an antidote for poison, while other cultures believed that wearing an emerald would bring good luck and prosperity to its wearer.
Emeralds are also associated with many myths and legends throughout history:
In Hinduism, emerald was considered one of the most sacred stones because it was said to represent Vishnu's eye color when he took on his avatars (which included Krishna). This led some people to believe that they could see into heaven if they looked through an emerald's reflection!
In Christianity, St. Joseph is said to have given Mary Magdalene an emerald ring after Jesus' death on the cross so she could sell it for money when she needed help taking care of him after he grew up (and no one else would).
The Worlds Most Famous Emeralds
Some of the most famous emeralds in the world include:
The Chalk Emerald (37.82 carats (7.564 g) rectangular step-cut emerald, mined in Muzo, Colombia)
The Mogul Mughal (217.80 carats, mined in Columbia)
the Atocha Star (25.87 carats (5.174 g) before being cut to 12.72 carats (2.544 g)
the Isabella Emerald (964-carats, mined in Columbia)
the Hooker Emerald Brooch (75.47 carats (15.094 g) total)
the Maximilian Emerald (21.04 carats)
the emeralds in Marie-Thérèse Charlotte's Emerald-and-Diamond Tiara
International Gem Society. "Seven Famous Emeralds and Their Stories." International Gem Society. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/famous-emeralds/ ↩
DiamondStuds News. "History’s Most Famous Emerald Gems." DiamondStuds. https://www.diamondstuds.com/news/historys-most-famous-emerald-gems/ ↩ ↩2
WorldAtlas. "The Most Precious Emeralds In The World." WorldAtlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-most-precious-emeralds-in-the-world.html ↩ ↩2
Gem Rock Auctions. "Emerald History: 7 World-Famous Emeralds and Their Stories." Gem Rock Auctions. https://www.gemrockauctions.com/learn/news/7-famous-emeralds ↩