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Emerald Gemstone Factsheet

Information about Emeralds Including: History, Folklore and Jewellery


History of Emeralds

Emerald is a green gem of the Beryl variety, highly sought after as a precious gem stone.

The name emerald comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' from the Old French 'esmeralde', and really just means 'green gemstone'. Innumerable fantastic stories have grown up around this magnificent gem.

The Incas and Aztecs of South America, where the best emeralds are still found, regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone. However, probably the oldest known finds were made near the Red Sea in Egypt.

Emerald mines, were exploited by Egyptian pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C. and were later referred to as 'Cleopatra's Mines'. By the time they were rediscovered in the early 19th century, these emerald mines had already been exhausted.

Folklore of Emeralds as Healing Agents

There are many legends and folk lore surrounding supposed healing properties of emeralds.

Emeralds were considered to have the ability to cure all ailments. The wealthy would either boil or crush emeralds into a lotion and apply it to cuts or various other skin problems.

Some ailments emeralds were believed to cure include:

  • Ear problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart diseases
  • Gall stones
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Miscarriages
  • Paralysis
  • Mental illness and imbalance

Another common belief was that emeralds have the power to give insight, foresight, and hindsight.

From Emerald Stones to Jewellery

Emeralds are used in a variety of jewellery types such as earrings, rings, and pendants.

Transparent emeralds are faceted – given flat faces on geometrical shapes - into gem cuts for jewelry, and are very popular jewellery gemstones. Emeralds are very sensitive and prone to breaking when pressure is applied.

The well-known "emerald cut" was developed specifically for this gem to reduce the amount of pressure used during cutting.

Since the emerald is not only one of the most beautiful gemstones, but also one of the most valuable, there are innumerable synthetics and imitations available on the market.

How Can I Protect Myself from Buying Fake Emeralds?

Large emeralds in particular should only be purchased with a certificate from a reputable gemological institute. Professionals are able to differentiate between natural and synthetic emeralds, and will inform you as to whether the stone has undergone any treatment or enhancements.

Gemological Certification of Emeralds

Gems such as emeralds are certified to verify the authenticity of the stone. A gemological certificate will often have a photograph of the stone and include information such as the weight, cut, measurements, enhancements, and any other essential features noted during the certification process.

Gemological certification institutes employ trained gemologists who use a variety of scientific methods and test equipment to thoroughly examine your emerald or gemstone.

When acquiring certification for your emerald, avoid certificates issued by the sellers themselves. In this case you should take the emerald to reputable independent organizations that are recognized in the industry, or, only buy emeralds that have already been certified by a recognized gemological institute.

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