History Of Emeralds

“Smaragus”! Who today would ever think this name is associated with one of the most romantic stones in modern history? I am referencing the Emerald. In some languages the name emerald originated from the word “Smaragus” which is Greek for “City of Green”. The Greeks had an affinity for emeralds as did the Irish (Emerald Isle) and the city of Seattle, Washington (Emerald City). Even in Thailand, their most sacred religious icon is the “Emerald Buddha,” although it is really made of Green Jadeite. 

In India, the word “emerald” is said to originate from the Sanskrit word, “Marakata” which means “the green of growing things”, which is quite appropriate since in the Indian culture, emeralds represent fertility, growth, and peace. 

Did you know that gem-quality emeralds are scarcer than diamonds? The majority are found in hydrothermal areas including Columbia, Brazil, and Zambia. 

No historical figure matches the passion for emeralds than that held by Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. She is credited with opening the first emerald mines, and using the gem stones in her royal regalia. She also gifted emeralds to dignitaries who visited her kingdom. 

As many know, emeralds are synonymous with Colombia; the most famous are from mines in the Muzo Valley. When conquering the New World, the Spanish looted emeralds from the Incas and used the gem stones to acquire silver and gold from other European and Asian countries. This trading led to a demand for emeralds throughout the Continents and led the stone to be known as “The Jewel of Kings”. 

 One of the most famous stories of Spanish plundering is that of the Peruvian city of Manta. Their goddess, Umina, was worshipped as a very large emerald that would be brought out of the temple during holidays. The worshippers would bring smaller “daughters” to the “mother emerald”. When the Spanish conquered the city, they found a huge collection of emeralds, but were never able to find the “Umina”.

 In biblical text, emeralds were one of the four precious stones bestowed upon King Solomon by G-d. Emeralds are also believed to reveal the truth of a lover’s promises, foresee the future, protect against evil spells, and cure diseases like malaria and cholera. WOW! No wonder emerald is the most desired species of the Beryl family.

 Today, emerald represents the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. It is also the birthstone for those lucky individuals born in May!

 Looking for some emerald jewelry? Browse our collection of emeralds HERE.