50 Facts About Emeralds


Emeralds are one of the 4 traditional precious gemstones that adorn the crowns of Royalty, and the jewellery of the wealthy. These gems were once the green-tinged roots of legend and folk story, but, now they are used solely for decoration and pleasure. So read on to discover 50 facts about Emeralds. 

Fact 1: Emeralds are part of the precious Gemstone family which is made up of 4 different stones.

  • The other precious stones include sapphires, which are blue; rubies, which are red; and diamonds, which, in their highest quality, are transparent.

Fact 2: Weighing in at a massive 1,383.93 carats, which is about 277 grams, the Duke of Devonshire Emerald is one of the largest uncut emeralds in the world.

  • To put that into perspective for you, that’s about the same weight as holding 2 large oranges in 1 hand.

Fact 3: The Duke of Devonshire Emerald is roughly cubical in shape with sides 5cm long each.

  • To give you some idea of how big that is, we’ll turn to another fruit: the humble apple. Your typical medium-size apple is about 5cm across. Which should give you a good idea of how big ‘The Duke’ is.

Fact 4: An Emerald can measure between 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. The scale runs from 0 (softest) to 10 (hardest).

  • For comparison, standard glass has a hardness of 5.5. Because glass is softer than emerald, you’d easily be able to scratch your name into a pane of glass with an emerald ring!

Fact 5: Egypt was the first place known to mine emeralds 3,500 years ago in 1500 BC.

  • During this time, Hatshepsut ruled over ancient Egypt.
Hatshepsut was the fifth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. She was the second historically-confirmed female Pharaoh, the first being Sobekneferu.

Fact 6: Cleopatra, a ruler in ancient Egypt, had a love for Emeralds.

  • Ancient Egyptians also believed that Emeralds had healing powers: They could, apparently, treat short-sightedness and other eye diseases.

Fact 7: Emeralds are the softest of the 4 gemstones and can easily shatter if pressure is applied.

  • This natural weakness, inherent to emeralds, is why jewellery containing emeralds is often more expensive than buying diamonds. Emeralds are known to spontaneously disintegrate during the cutting process leading to a lot of waste.

Fact 8: Emeralds are the designated gemstone for birthdays in the month of May.

  • Additionally, emeralds are also recognized as the gemstone of choice for the 20th, 35th and 55th wedding anniversary in the United States.

Fact 9: The cut given to an emerald before it’s set into jewellery largely determines its shade of green.

  • Generally, wider angled cuts give the stone a darker hue, and shallower angled cuts give a lighter hue.

Fact 10: 4 main factors determine an emerald’s value.

  • These are the stone’s clarity, carat weight, cut, and color.

Fact 11: Unlike diamonds, imperfection is prized among emeralds.

  • The most expensive diamonds are near or absolutely flawless. However, emeralds tend to be prized more for the stone’s individual character, which is created by its imperfections.

Fact 12: Emerald is made from the mineral beryl.

  • Beryl, and therefor emeralds, contain the elements Berylium, silicon, aluminum, and oxygen.

Fact 13: About 6 tones of emeralds are produced every year.

  • Strangely, far more diamonds are produced each year. On average, 22 tones of rough diamonds are produced worldwide every year.

Fact 14: Emeralds are usually set in jewellery with at least one partner gemstone.

  • At a minimum, they are paired up with another emerald. But usually, you’ll find them alongside many other emeralds and precious stones. Only in rings are singular emeralds usually found, and even that’s rare.

Fact 15: The oldest emeralds are about 2.97 billion years old.

  • For comparison sake, humans, in our current form, have occupied the planet for a mear 2 million years. That’s nearly 3000 times less time!

Fact 16: The name Emerald comes from the Old French French name “Esmeralde.”

  • And the name, “Esmeralde” has even deep roots that stretch back to ancient Greece with the word “smaragdus,” which also means green.

Fact 17: Most emeralds are oiled as part of the post-lapidary process

  • This oiling process fills in the tiny cracks and imperfections on the Gemstone’s faces improving the stone’s clarity.
The lapidary process is the process of forming stone, minerals, or gemstones into decorative items such as cabochons, engraved gems (including cameos), and faceted designs. A lapidarist uses the lapidary techniques of cutting, grinding, and polishing.

Fact 18: Elizabeth Taylor owned a necklace emblazoned with a large emerald which sold for $6.5 million in 2011.

  • The price per carrot was roughly $280,000!

Fact 19: Aztecs of South Central America called emeralds the Stone of the Earth.

  • Additionally, emeralds and jade, both of which are green, were associated with fertility. Many fertility statues found in Aztec temples and pyramids are studded in emeralds and jade.

Fact 20: The Bahia Emerald is the largest emerald in the world weighing 341kg.

  • The Bahi is actually a collection of emeralds shards cemented together in rock. The collection has been estimated to be worth over $400 million. And some gemstone experts think even that huge sum is a low estimate.

Fact 21: Colombia is the largest producer of emeralds in the world. They account for over 50% of the world’s production.

  • Other countries that contribute to the world’s production of emeralds are Zambia, Afghanistan, and Brazil.

Fact 22: The ancient Romans believed that emeralds could cure complications associated with birth and fertility.

  • Coincidently, ancient Aztecs also belive that Emeralds were associated with fertility. This is even more fascinating when you considering the same beliefs sprang up in different parts of the world that had never had contact with each other.

Fact 23: The emerald is the gemstone of astrological signs of Taurus, Gemini, and Cancer.

  • Some even go on to say that the emerald, in astrological terms, is linked to the planet Mercury!

Fact 24: Emeralds were first discovered in North America in the Yukon Territory in 1997, though large emerald deposits in the United States and further north are very rare. 

  • The Gemstone is seen as a sign of wisdom and intelligence.

Fact 25: A Roman emperor called Nero watched Gladiator matches through a set of emerald “sunglasses.”

  • It is believed that Nero had an aversion to the sight of blood. The transparent emerald stones helped by giving the crimson blood a green tint.

Fact 26: Emeralds are the gemstone of choice for Royal Families.

  • The imperial state crown is covered in 23,578 stones. 11 of which are emeralds.

Fact 27: 1-carat of emerald is larger than a 1-carat diamond because emerald has a lower density.

  • For comparison, diamond has. a density of 3.51 g/cm3. Whereas emerald has a density of between 2.67-2.78 g/cm3.

Fact 28: There are 3 main emerald mining areas in Colombia: Chivor, Coscuez, and Muzo.

  • These 3 areas are all found in the central region of Columbia, roughly 100km north of Bogota.

Fact 29: The green color found in emeralds is actually caused by small impurities of Chromium or Vanadium.

  • These elements seep into the stone while it’s forming

Fact 30: It’s very difficult to tell the difference between fake emeralds and real emeralds.

  • People who make fake emeralds include artificial cracks and intrusions to complete the illusion.

Fact 31: An emerald’s clarity is assessed with the naked eye. 

  • This is in contrast to diamonds whose clarity is judged using the 10x loupe. 
A 10x loupe is a simple, small magnification device used to see small details more closely.

Fact 32: On Jun 20, 2017, Harry Winston, an American Jewellery company, bought an emerald for a staggering $5.5 million at auction. That price made the emerald worth $305,000 per carat.

  • However, that’s nothing compared to how much a diamond can cost. The most expensive diamond ever sold for a whopping $3.93 million per carat!

Fact 33: In 1935, an American chemist named Carroll Chatham successfully created a synthetic 1-carat emerald. 

  • For comparison, synthetic sapphires and rubies were created 28 years earlier in 1907.

Fact 34: Ancient folklore would have you believe that putting an emerald under your tongue would make you tell the truth.

  • Additionally, emeralds were thought to ward off evil spirits, and so the stones were sought after by the wealthy.

Fact 35: The green color of an emerald is thought to symbolize harmony, love of nature, and joy of life in many civilizations.

  • This is in comparison to Rubies, who’s red hues and fiery lustre have given them the reputation as the stone of passion and love.

Fact 36: Unlike other gemstones, emeralds can be found in all types of rock.

  • The types of rock that emeralds are found in are igneous rock, sedimentary rock, and metamorphic rock.

Fact 37: In the 1960’s America, a U.S.A. jewellery organization decided that both Chromium and Vanadium-containing stones were official emeralds.

  • However, this is only the case in America. Vanadium emeralds are not classed as real emeralds in Europe and the rest of the world.

Fact 38: Bahia Emerald was dug up in a small mine in Brazil.

  • The stone encased emeralds were so heavy that they had to be carried out on a makeshift stretcher.

Fact 39: Emeralds can be found in over 30 countries.

  • This includes the US and China,

Fact 40: In Medieval times, Christians used to think that emerald’s belonged to the devil.

  • Emeralds where thought have fallen from the evil one’s crown.

Fact 41: Emeralds were thought to have been first discovered in South America by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.

  • However, it is thought native Central and Southern Americans knew of and used emeralds up 2000 years before their Spanish discovery.
Conquistador  is a term which is widely used to refer to the knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish. During the Age of Discovery, Conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes.

Fact 42: Emeralds that are considered high-quality are usually very transparent and offer a medium green tone.

  • Additionally, the quality is not usually affected by incursions or impurities are these are considered to add character to the Gem.

Fact 43: A Trapiche emerald is a super rare type of emerald that has 6 dark pointed spokes radiating from the centre.

  • These spokes are created by impurities in the emerald.

Fact 44: Jaipur is the largest emerald cutting centre in the world.

  • Jaipur can be found in Northern India.

Fact 45: Between 2001 and 2010, the production of emeralds in Colombia increased by 80%.

  • Due to the use of new technologies, this figure has since increased to over 100%

Fact 46: The ‘Patricia Emerald’ was named after Patricia, the daughter of the Chivor mine owner, where the 632-carat, uncut Columbian emerald was discovered.

  • The precious gem was discovered in the Chivor and Muzo emerald mine in 1920.

Fact 47: The most important factor for pricing an emerald is its color.

  • The most highly prized color is a vivid green followed by a bluish-green.

Fact 48: The second-largest producer of emeralds, Zambia, accounts for 21% of the world production of the green gemstone.

  • One of the largest mines is the Kagem Emerald Mine which is owned by Kagem mining limited.

Fact 49: Egyptians believed that emeralds could cure eye problems and also help wearers see into the future.

  • However, both of these claims have been refuted by modern science. It is thought Emerald is completely inert and doesn’t interact with the human body in any way.

Fact 50: In Pompei Italy, beautiful emerald jewellery was found buried under the ash the spewed from Mt. Vesuvius.

  • These emeralds were perfectly preserved by the ash which created a rock-like casing around the delicate jewellery.

References: 

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