History Of Emeralds

The allure of the emerald goes back to ancient times. They were considered to be the most valuable gemstones, and some even believed them to hold divine powers. Emeralds have long been hailed as the “Jewel of the Kings.” The first recorded emerald mines were in ancient Egypt around 500 BC. Queen Cleopatra of Egypt was known to have a particular admiration for emeralds and would give her lovers emeralds that were carved out to look like her. The exotic gift was a symbol of her irresistible beauty and rule.

When Spanish explorers invaded the New World (present-day Colombia) in the sixteenth century, they came across the emeralds that the Incans had been using in their religious rituals for nearly 500 years. The Spaniards traded the emeralds for precious metals, opening up the trade routes of Colombian emeralds to Europe and Asia.

India has arguably the greatest history of appreciation for emeralds. In the days of the Indian Maharajahs, only the most beautiful and exotic pieces of jewelry were worn by the men as a symbol of status and power, and at the center of these ornate pieces were emeralds. To wear ornaments of such impossible beauty made the monarchs seem almost godly to their subjects.



The formation of Colombian emeralds is a scientific anomaly. Emeralds are composed of a rare beryllium element found in very small amounts in the Earth’s crust. What separates emeralds from other gemstones is the presence of chromium and/or vanadium. Trace amounts of these elements cause an emerald’s green color. It is extremely rare for these two elements to ever be found in the same location.

The Colombian emerald beds are unique because of the tectonic shifts that created the Andes Mountains, which was key in exposing raw beryllium, chromium, and vanadium together. The tectonic movements forced the materials in liquid and gaseous states into the cracks of a sedimentary medium. Because of this, Colombian emeralds are the only emeralds in the world that are found in sedimentary host rock instead of in igneous rock. The process by which Colombian emeralds crystalized in the absence of volcanic activity remains a mystery, but it is why Colombian emeralds are considered the purest and (sometimes by some geologists) the only “authentic” emeralds in the world.