Cleopatra's favourite gemstone.. The Emerald!

Posted by Stephenie Denault on

It's May! 
The days are warming, the sun lingers longer and the grass is now turning a rich luscious green! 
Another notable green worthy of recognition this month is May's birthstone, the Emerald. 
The Emerald is regarded as the traditional birthstone for May and the astrological sign of Cancer.
16th Century historian Brantôme who referred to many impressive emeralds the Spanish under Cortez had brought back to Europe from Latin America.


One of the most notable emeralds he had engraved to read INTERNATOS MULIERUM NON SURREXIT MAJOR (Among those born of women there hath not arisen a greater) This referred to John The Baptist
The Chief deity of one of India's most famous temples Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai is the Goddess Meenakshi whose idol is traditionally thought to be made of emerald.

We have seen emeralds sitting embedded in the crowns of royalty, on the hands, ears and necks of stars, and loved by the world for it's deep rich green hues. 

Elizabeth Taylor was no exception! Her Bulgari Emerald & diamond pendant brooch holds the record to date, for the most expensive piece of emerald jewelry sold at auction. The brooch was originally purchased by Richard Burton for Elizabeth during the filming of Cleopatra in Rome, in the early days of their romance.
Approximately 23.46 carats, it was worn by Elizabeth at their wedding in 1964 before being sold at Christies in 2011 for $6.6 million dollars


But where do they come from?!

Emeralds were mined in Egypt at locations on Mont Smaragdus since 1500 BCE along with India and Austria since 14th Century CE
The Egyptian mines were exploited on an industrial scale by Roman & Byzantine Empires, and later by Islamic Conquerors. ining ceased there with the discovery of Columbian deposits. Today only ruins remain.

Today, Colombia is the world's greatest producer consisting of 50-90% of the worlds production. 
The production increased 78% from 2000-2010. The three main emerald mining areas are Muzo, Coscuez and Chivor
Zambia is the world's second largest producer. They can be found all over the world Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mozambique Namibia, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, USA, Zambia, Zimbabue.

Emeralds are considered a gemstone and a variety of the mineral beryl. The green comes from trace amounts of chromium and Occasionally vanadium. 
Like all coloured gemstones, emeralds are graded using the 4 C's of Connoisseurship, Colour, Clarity, Cut, Carat weight. THis member of the beryl family ranks among the traditional 'BIG FOUR' gems along with diamonds, rubies and sapphires. 
Normally colour is by far the most important criterion, but for emeralds, clarity is a very close second.
A fine emerald must have a pure verdant green hue and a high degree of transparency to be considered a top gemstone.
Their hues range from yellow-green to blue green with the primary hue being green. Only gems that are medium to dark in tone are considered emeralds . Light tone emeralds are known as "green beryl" 
The finest emeralds are approximately 75% tone on a scale where 100% is opaque black, and 0% tone is colourless.

They are beautiful to look at, and stunning as jewelery pieces. Make no mistake; the emerald is considered fragile, and best worn as earrings or a necklace.. where it is 'set' rather than a ring where it is exposed to abrasive elements. If worn in a ring, perhaps better for wearing on special occasions rather than daily. 


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