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The Emerald Gemstone

Bright green and symbolic of revitalisation and rejuvenation, emeralds are a highly coveted gemstone. They are often associated with springtime and they are the birthstone for May. Throughout the ages, emeralds have been treasured and held in the highest esteem. These deep green gemstones have been favoured by royal families from all corners of the world, and they have demanded respect in both ancient and modern times.

These breath-taking stones have been the centre of countless extraordinary jewellery pieces over the centuries. Read on to find out more about the history, meaning, and symbolism of the emerald.

What is an Emerald?

A variety of the mineral beryl, emeralds come in all shapes and sizes. An emerald is formed when beryl mixes with chromium and vanadium impurities, which bring out the bright green colour. Emeralds can be found in various countries around the globe, and many of the key types of emeralds are named after their country of origin.

Emerald Gemstones
The Emerald
History of the Emerald

Brazilian Emeralds:

Named after their place of origin, Brazilian emeralds are known for being a slightly lighter shade of green compared to those mined in different locations. The name "Brazilian emeralds" can also sometimes refer to green tourmaline.

Columbian Emeralds:

Perhaps the most highly coveted emerald variation, these emeralds are mined in Columbia. Columbian emerald engagement rings are eagerly sought after.

Star Emeralds:

These emeralds get this title when the rare shape of a rayed star can be seen moving inside of the gemstone.

Cat's Eye Emeralds:

This variation of emeralds is known for their chatoyancy, otherwise known as the 'cat-eye effect', hence their title. This optical phenomenon occurs in the form of a cat's eye-like slit appearing within the emerald. This can normally only be seen on pale green varieties of the gemstone.

Trapiche Emeralds:

This rare emerald variation can only be found in the Muzo area of Columbia. The Trapiche emerald contains black impurities that form a six-rayed star.

History of the Emerald

Throughout the centuries, this gemstone has been revered. The emerald has gone by many names throughout its rich history. In ancient India, the emerald was referred to as "marakata" which translates as "the green growth." The word "emerald" that we use to describe the stone today, most likely derives from the Latin word, "smaragdus."

The history of the emerald can be traced back to the Ancient markets of Europe and Asia where this breath-taking stone was traded around 6000 years ago. The emerald was prized by many ancient cultures, both for its beauty and its rich symbolism. Legends even said that wearing a piece of emerald jewellery would allow you to see into the future – some cultures believed that placing the emerald under the tongue was the best way to achieve clairvoyant powers.

Emeralds were treasured by the Incas, and later, it was the Spanish conquistadors who introduced the spectacular South American emerald variety to Europe. From this point onwards, the gemstone was favoured by European royal families, featuring in many sets of royal jewels. Even Queen Victoria's snake-shaped engagement ring, given to her by Prince Albert, featured a striking emerald.

In addition to royalty, 20th-century Hollywood film stars were often known for their love of emeralds. Among others, Elizabeth Taylor was famed for her impressive collection of emerald jewellery, worth nearly $100 million.

The Symbolism of the Emerald

Emeralds are most often associated with vitality and the powers of rejuvenation. This makes them a wonderful fit if you're looking for a May birthstone gift, as they embody the ideas of spring and new beginnings. In relation to this, many societies throughout history have shared the belief that emeralds have the power to cure diseases.

As well as these restorative powers, emeralds are believed to bring the wearer protection, wellness, and good fortune in all walks of life. They have also been thought to hold calming qualities and believed to encourage trust and protection for the wearer.

Because of the emerald's calming and encouraging symbolism, a piece of emerald jewellery would be a fantastic gift for anyone who is setting off on a new adventure, perhaps starting a new job or moving to a new home.

At AC Silver, we have a wide range of exquisite emerald jewellery pieces, including emerald rings, emerald necklaces, emerald earrings, and much more. We are particularly proud to present some large antique Columbian emeralds within our collection. Whether you're looking for a gift to celebrate a loved one's birthstone or a beautiful new addition to your own jewellery collection, browse our online shop today.

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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