Knowledge Centre > Gemmology > Gemstones > Emerald

Captivating Emeralds

information on emeralds and their history

 Renaissance emerald gold ring hatton garden berganza
Renaissance decorative emerald set ring, circa 17th century.
Ref: 27522

The Roman historian Pliny the Elder described the colour of an emerald in his Natural History as, “…nothing greens greener”. For centuries emeralds have been adored and celebrated for their intense colour which excited imaginations and have adorned many imperial rulers, sultans, and monarchs. The first known emerald mines were discovered in Egypt, dating from at least 330 BC. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald which were featured in her royal adornments.

According to Pliny, the emperor Nero would watch the gladiators battle through an emerald lens as this would magnify the view! Emeralds have long been associated with legends, for example that they enabled the wearer to foresee the future when the emerald was placed under the tongue. They were also thought to reveal truth and protect against evil enchantments.

Colombia is the source of the world’s finest emeralds. The mines of Colombia are situated in the eastern range of the Andes. The most renowned of these are the old mines of Chivor and Muzo, which today are famed for producing high quality emeralds with a saturated pure green hue and a superior clarity. These mines were an ancient source of emeralds, with many now exhausted today. Emeralds were first mined on an industrial scale by the Spanish in 1538, who treasured gold and silver far more than gems and traded emeralds for precious metals. Their trades opened the eyes of European and Asian royalty to the majesty of emeralds.

Emeralds are one of the most sought after of all coloured gemstones. Natural emeralds with no colour enhancement are extremely rare as the majority of emeralds on the market today have been treated to improve the appearance of colour. Treating emeralds is routinely practiced today as the demand of these gemstones has now outstripped the supply of gem quality emeralds. At Berganza we are very discerning, every emerald in our collection is natural and has had no colour enhancement.

The emerald is perhaps the most famous variety of the mineral, Beryl. Although Beryl itself is naturally colourless, different elements within the composition alter the colour and produces a variety of different coloured gemstones in the Beryl family. These range from ocean blue aquamarines to the vibrant green of emeralds. The natural colour of an emerald reflects new spring growth, which makes it the perfect choice of birthstone for the month of May.

Captivated by the colour of spectacular natural emeralds? From 17th century emerald set rings to striking vintage pieces, begin the search for the perfect piece by browsing our extensive online inventory of over three thousand rings, all of which can be viewed online, in our showroom located in Hatton Garden or via Zoom appointment. To learn more about this fascinating gemstone, watch a video here! 

vintage Emerald diamond cocktail ring berganza hatton garden
Colombian emerald and diamond cocktail ring, circa 1940.
Ref: 22341
Vintage Colombian emerald solitaire ring, English, circa 1980.  Hatton Garden
Vintage Colombian emerald solitaire ring, English, circa 1980.
Ref: 22640
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Updated 25/05/2024 at 11:51AM

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