Do you know the “Jewel of Kings?”

How to grade Emeralds - peters vaults

For ages, the Emerald has symbolized royalty along with eloquence, wit, and foresight.
The Jewel of Kings is also the birthstone for May.

In ancient times emeralds were considered sacred symbols of fertility and immortality. The emerald was mined in Egypt as early as 330 BC, but some estimate that the oldest emeralds are 2.97 billion years old.

Legend says Cleopatra, the most famous historical figure to cherish emeralds, adorned herself and her palace with emeralds, she also gave them as gifts to foreign dignitaries. Cleopatra even claimed ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign.

The Egyptians used emeralds both in jewelry and in their fancy burials, often including emeralds as symbols of protection.

On the other side of the world, the Muzo Indians of Colombia had well-hidden and prized emerald mines. These mines were so hidden, it took the Spanish conquistadors twenty years to find them.

Artist Crown of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, known as the Crown of the Andes, ca. 1660–1770
Unknown Artist Crown of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, known as the Crown of the Andes, ca. 1660–1770 Colombian, Gold, repoussé and chased; emeralds; 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm) Body diameter: 13 1/4 in. (33.7 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, Acquisitions Fund and Mary Trumbull Adams Fund, 2015 (2015.437) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/21698

In past eras, they believed emeralds would confer riches, power, and eloquence when worn as talismans.

Supposedly, these gems also strengthened memory and sharpened the wearer’s wits. Its most valuable power was conceivably bestowing the ability to predict future events.
Furthermore, Arab, Hindu, and Spanish physicians used emeralds against infections, poison, and dysentery. Many people believed the gemstone would ward off possession by demons.

Emerald is a gemstone and a variety of the mineral beryl, colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Most emeralds are highly included, so their toughness (resistance to breakage) is classified as generally poor. Emerald is a cyclosilicate.
The word “emerald” is derived from (Old French: esmeraude and Middle English: emeraude), from Vulgar Latin: esmaralda/esmaraldus, a variant of Latin smaragdus, which originated in Ancient Greek: (smaragdos; “green gem”)

Hardness of 7.5–8 on the Mohs scale

Emeralds, like all colored gemstones, are graded using the four Cs: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Before the 20th century, jewelers used the term water, as in, “a gem of the finest water”, to express the combination of two qualities: color and clarity.

Normally, in the grading of colored gemstones, color is by far the most important criterion. Yet, in the grading of emeralds, clarity is a close second. A fine emerald must have not only a pure verdant green hue as described below, but also a high degree of transparency to a top gem.

Like other gemstones, the emerald was believed to have many mystical powers that accompanied its beauty. There were those who thought the emerald could cure stomach problems, control epilepsy, and stop bleeding. Due to its soothing green color, it was also thought to be able to ward off panic and keep the wearer relaxed and serene.

Today, the emerald stands as a symbol of loyalty, new beginnings, peace, and security, which makes it a beautiful gem to wear, and also a treasured gift. Emeralds are still cherished by the rich and famous today, with Elizabeth Taylor’s famous emerald pendant selling for $6.5 million in 2011.


I can see why emeralds were “The Jewel of Kings”

Published by Peter Lopez

Peter is a lifelong student of art with a particular passion for jewelry, vintage European cars, movies, books, and history.

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