Emeralds are fascinating gemstones. They have the most beautiful, most intense and most radiant green that can possibly be imagined, and range in color from light to deep green. Fine emeralds are even more valuable than diamonds. All emeralds have imperfections such as inclusions and small fractures. This is not seen negatively, but rather as part of the character of an emerald. To diminish these flaws, most emeralds are treated with an oil, sometimes tinted green. Emeralds are fragile and can be easily chipped. To reduce this tendency and cause less stress, a special rectangular cut was developed called the “emerald cut”.
The name emerald comes from the Greek ‘smaragdos’ via the Old French ‘esmeralde’, and really just means ‘green gemstone’. Ancient Egyptians established emerald mines before Cleopatra’s birth. Tools were discovered in the mines dating back to Ramses II, around 1300 B.C. Worn by Egyptian royalty, emeralds were also buried with the dead. Though beautiful, Egyptian emeralds were found to be lower quality once the Spanish discovered Columbian gems.
In the region now known as Columbia, ancient Muzo Indians established successful emerald mining operations possibly as early as 500 A.D. Columbia is still a top emerald producer. Other emerald sources include Russia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Madagascar. North Carolina is the only significant emerald source in the United States.
The ancients associated Emerald with the Greek goddess Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, it and was said to protect lovers from unfaithfulness. If the heart was loyal, the gem would glow in a beautiful green color, but if the heart was went astray, it would turn a different, lifeless color. In addition, it was believed that wearing an Emerald would improve one’s memory and intelligence, enabling one to think clearly about the past, present, and future. For the mind and the spirit, the remedial use of emeralds has many positive attributes. It is said to detoxify negativity and transform it into positive emotional energy.