The Emerald has been a gem of fascination in many cultures for over six
thousand years. They have graced Crown
and embellished the thrones of some of the oldest dynasties in
history. As a symbol of wealth and power they are unsurpassed. With their
sparkling green luster they are considered to be more precious than
diamonds. And, carat for carat, they
are the most expensive
in the world. They are
Emeralds, the most precious of all
According to Indian mythology, the name emerald was first translated from
Sanskrit as “marakata,” meaning “the green of growing things.” The name Emerald
is believed to come from an ancient Persian word, translated to Latin as
“smaragdus,” and eventually over time, corrupted to “emerald.”
Records show that the stone was known and sold in markets in Babylon as early
as 4000 BC. It is a stone that was worshiped by the Incas and mentioned in
biblical information about the apocalypse.
The earliest reference to emeralds in Western literature come from Aristotle.
He was a great fan of the gemstone and wrote that owning an emerald increases
the owner’s importance in presence and speech during business, gives victory in
trials, helps settle litigation, and comforts and soothes eyesight.
The world’s source of emerald supplies has traditionally
been Egypt. The first known avid collector of Emeralds was Cleopatra. Remains of
"Cleopatra's Emerald Mines" were discovered about 1817, along the Red Sea coast,
some 440 miles southeast of Cairo. For thousands of years the famous Cleopatra
mines were worked by the Egyptians and then the Romans and the Turks.
In ancient times emeralds held a real fascination for the
people. In addition to their exquisite
beauty, they were coveted for their
supposed magical and healing powers. Emeralds were, in fact, considered to be a
cure for many diseases. They were also believed to be able to heighten fertility
and sexual desire in females. The ancient Egyptians believed the emerald
stood for fertility and rebirth. As a result of such claims, Emeralds were
greatly sought after and a profitable trade was established between Egypt and
nations as far away as India.
Emeralds were also believed to reveal what was true or false and was said to
be a sure antidote for enchantments and spells. They were also to give eloquence
in speech and make people more intelligent and honest. It is believed that
emeralds contain the energy that is necessary to bring creative form to your
work. They also help one express love, devotion, and adoration.
Legend has it that Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, tried to bring
huge chunks of Emerald that he took from the Aztecs back home with him. However,
one of his ships was shipwrecked, and delicately carved Emeralds in the shape of
flowers and fish and other rare Emeralds, including an Emerald the size of a
man’s palm, became lost forever.
Emeralds also adorn the Russian crown jewels. The Iranian State Treasure
contains an exquisite collection of Emeralds, as well as the Emerald tiara of
ex-Empress Farah. Shah Jahan, one of the moguls of India that built the Taj
Mahal, loved Emeralds so much that he had sacred texts inscribed into them and
used these gemstones as talismans. The ancient writings of Veda, the sacred text
of Hinduism, testifies to Emerald as being the “gem of good luck” and the “gem
that improves one’s well-being”. These “Mogul Emeralds”, as they are known
today, can be found in modern museums and collections.
Alexander the Great had a large emerald set into his girdle. In 800 AD Charlemagne
the undisputed ruler of Western Europe. His vast realm covered what are now
France, Switzerland, Belgium, and The Netherlands. It included half of
present-day Italy and Germany, part of Austria, and the Spanish March
("border"). He loved and had
a large collection of emeralds. Henry II, when he was made King of Ireland in
1171, was given a large emerald ring. Queen Elizabeth II had an amazing
collection of emerald jewelry including an emerald diadem.
In modern times, Marlene Dietrich wore her own collection of dramatic jewelry
set with huge cabochon emeralds (two bracelets and a clip brooch) in many of her
movies. We have also seen the elegant Elizabeth Taylor in her emerald jewelry in
National Geographic's emerald story. Richard Burton gave her the emerald and
diamond brooch as an engagement present, which she wore with an emerald necklace
he gave her as a wedding present. Earrings, a bracelet, and a ring followed.
Some of the emeralds in Taylor’s set were from the Grand Duchess Vladimir in
Russia. John F. Kennedy gave Jacqueline Bouvier a 2.88 carat diamond emerald