30 Facts About Emeralds: Cleopatra’s Favorite Gemstone

In the world of gemstones, emeralds are in a league of their own. The majestic and unmatched hue of this sought-after gem not only makes every other stone green with envy, but emeralds are also more than 20 times rarer than diamonds, therefore, commanding significantly higher prices in most cases.

Let’s explore the fanciful history of emeralds, its lore, and some to-the-point facts to help enliven your fascination for one of the best non-diamond engagement ring options in today’s colorful gemstone market.

30 Important Facts About Emeralds

Here’s everything you need to know about one of the world’s most desirable gemstones:

  • The word “emerald” stems from the Latin smaragdus, which translates to green.
  • Alongside diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, the emerald is one of the four main precious gemstones.
  • This is the birthstone of people born in the month of May.
  • In the United States, emerald is the traditional and modern representation of all couples’ 55th wedding anniversary.
  • The emerald is a variety of a rare silicate mineral called beryl.
  • Emeralds get their green coloring from trace amounts of vanadium and/or chromium.
  • The emerald scores a 7.5 to 8 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Though they are durable, emeralds are prone to cracking and chipping, which makes them more costly to set into jewelry.
  • A 1-carat emerald can appear larger than a 1-carat diamond because of its lower density.
  • Coming across a natural emerald without inclusions or imperfections is rare. That being said, a top-quality natural emerald is often more expensive than a top-quality diamond of the same weight.
  • Most emeralds come from Colombia. The country accounts for more than 50 percent of emerald production on a global scale.

Emerald History

  • Although the earliest dated emerald mines were from at least 330 BC in Egypt, the oldest emeralds are about 2.97 billion years old.
  • The emerald is one of Queen Cleopatra VII’s gemstones of choice.
  • The Spanish Conquistadors “rediscovered” or found new sources of emeralds in Central and South America during the 16th Century, when they seized the lands and riches of the Incas and Aztecs.
  • Although emeralds originally sourced from Egypt were circulating throughout Europe and Asia, the Spanish also traded the newfound stones across both continents for precious metals, which helped increase the demand for emeralds in different parts of the world.
  • Unlike synthetic rubies and sapphires, which French chemist Auguste Verneuil perfected during the early 1900s, the first faceted synthetic emerald was not available until 1963.

Emerald Symbolisms and Lores

  • According to ancient folklore, wearing emeralds enhanced intuition and guarded against memory loss.
  • Placing an emerald under the tongue was believed to help one see into the future.
  • The emerald used to act as a form of truth serum, which helped men and women in the past determine whether their lover’s vows and intentions were true.
  • The calming bluish-green color of an emerald helped early lapidaries (a person who cuts, polishes, and/or carves gemstones) relieve tired eyes after long hours of concentration.
  • In historic times, red rubies and green emeralds represented love. However, the ruby was a passionate and almost violent symbol of love, while green emeralds stood for love that was deep, faithful, and everlasting.

Emerald Value

  • As mentioned, top-quality emeralds often command higher price points than diamonds on a per-carat basis.
  • The cut, color, clarity, and carat weight (the four Cs) determines the value of an emerald. Perhaps the most important characteristic of a natural emerald is its color. The best ones are bluish-green or vivid green with even saturation and no color banding.
  • The most valuable emeralds are transparent and not too dark nor too light in color. Some gemologists may not even consider green beryls that are too light as emeralds.
  • A gemologist determines the clarity grade of a diamond using a 10x loupe. The clarity of an emerald is often examined with the naked eye. 
  • Elizabeth Taylor’s famous Bulgari emerald brooch sold for $6,130,500 in 2011. It remains “the most expensive single-stone emerald jewel ever sold,” according to Christie’s.
  • Weighing 1,383.93 carats, the glorious Duke of Devonshire Emerald is one of the largest uncut emeralds in the world.

For more record-breaking emerald sales, click here.

How to Clean and Care for Emeralds

  • Due to the inclusions in an emerald, avoid cleaning them in an ultrasonic cleaner, which can cause an emerald to chip over time. Instead, clean your gems using a soft microfiber cloth to remove any accumulated dirt or oil on the jewelry. You can also place the jewelry into a mixture of soap and lukewarm water, using your fingers as a “cloth” to wipe away excess dirt or oil.
  • People often treat emeralds by filling them with a natural oil like cedarwood, which helps fill in fractures and prevent unwanted chipping or cracking. You can coat your emeralds with baby oil to prevent the stone from becoming overly brittle.

For more ways to clean your jewelry, add the following articles to your reading list:

A Final Word

Buying an emerald is much less complicated than buying a diamond. People treasure the latter for its brilliance, while the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie, and Zoe Kravitz love emeralds for their rarity and gorgeous green coloring. Since it’s usually about the tone, hue, and saturation, remember to purchase your emeralds from an online showroom that has high-quality images of jewelry, like The Relux.

Sell Luxury Items in Scottsdale and Chandler, AZ

Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Halle Berry are some of the famous faces who donned an emerald engagement ring. Unfortunately, those unions did not stand the test of time, as Jackie Kennedy remarried after JFK’s assassination, and Halle Berry finalized her divorce with Oliver Martinez in 2016. If you still have your emerald engagement ring from a past flame, we can help you move on. Biltmore Loan is a reputable jewelry buyer in Phoenix, AZ. When it comes to emeralds and all-things luxury, we pay more than our competitors. Complete this online form today to get a market appraisal within 24 hours.