Knowledge Centre > Gemmology > Gemstones > Emerald

Emerald's Emerging

Colombian emerald and diamond ring, circa 1970 hatton garden
Colombian emerald and diamond ring, circa 1970.
Ref: 27995

Tuesday 23rd May 2023

Emerald's Emerging

“Give me songs to sing and emerald dreams to dream and I’ll give you love unfolding.”

 – Jim Morrison


Evoking images of Ireland’s luscious green forests and hills, of Cleopatra’s endless adoration, and Catherine the Great’s colossal Colombian creation, emeralds have been a part of human history since the dawn of time. Emerging first in ancient Egypt, some historians suggest the stones have been mined since at least 330 BC. Since then, our love of this precious gemstone has never faltered.

When first seen in jewellery, these beautiful gemstones were often kept in their natural, rough state, sometimes drilled to be threaded onto necklaces and garments. To begin with, polishing of these stones remained minimal, examples of which are seen as cabochon or rounded beads, far-flung from the faceting we know today, which would not be seen for centuries.

Egypt remained the prime source of emeralds for millennia, until the 1520’s and the subsequent emergence of ‘The New World’, and discovery of Colombia’s emerald mines. Before being discovered by the Spanish, emeralds were already revered in native culture, with the gems being worshipped, playing important roles in sacrificial offerings like the infamous El Dorado ceremony. An abundance and appreciation of these gems is evident in Hernán Cortés’ account of first meeting the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, who described him as being “bedecked in fine emeralds”.

Traversing through time, beautiful emerald pieces appear in some incredible incarnations across the world. These include the unforgettable find unearthed in the Cheapside Hoard, a treasure trove of over 400 pieces of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery found in the basement of a London building, featuring an intricate pocket watch housed in a large Colombian emerald of exquisite quality. Another famous example is the Mogul Mughal Emerald, a large 217.80 carat Colombian emerald, intricately engraved with scripture and floral motifs.

More recently, the image of Elizabeth Taylor donning her epic emerald suite springs to mind, gifted to her by Richard Burton whilst shooting Cleopatra in Italy, a fitting film considering the Pharaoh’s fascination with these glorious gemstones. This beautiful Bulgari creation consists of a brooch, a bracelet, a pair of drop earrings, a colossal cluster ring, and of course the necklace. The necklace is arguably the most iconic piece from the suite, set with sixteen graduated rectangular and square cut emeralds; embodying the elegance of Elizabeth Taylor, capturing the zeitgeist of the sixties in all its splendour.

With a deserving reputation for producing the finest quality emeralds in the world, with particular emphasis on the output of both the Chivor and Muzo mines, one cannot go wrong when choosing a Colombian emerald. These mines are famed for producing emeralds with a naturally saturated pure green hue and superior clarity, an incredibly rare and sought after characteristic amongst emeralds. Whilst Colombia still produces emeralds today, the quality cannot compare to those of yesteryear, making the stones set in antique and vintage pieces an incredible investment. Today, emeralds are heavily oiled to improve their colour, or even filled with resins to mask surface reaching fractures. Here at Berganza we are incredibly particular about the pieces we allow into our collection; every emerald is natural and of the finest quality.

Come and discover the enigma that is emeralds at Berganza today, you won’t regret it…


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Our extensive collection of ancient, early, antique and vintage jewellery can be viewed online or in store. Found the piece of your dreams? Don’t let it get away – secure it with a 20% deposit, the balance payable within 6 months, or apply for up to 48 months interest-free finance.

Drop emerald Cabochon and diamond earrings berganza hatton garden
Drop emerald Cabochon and diamond earrings, circa 1970.
Ref: 15854
Cabochon colombian emerald ring hatton garden
Cabochon Colombian emerald ring, circa 1920.
Ref: 26858
Vintage Colombian emerald diamond earrings hatton garden
Colombian emerald and diamond cluster earrings, circa 1970.
Ref: 27026
Belle Époque Colombian emerald solitaire ring, French, circa 1895. Hatton Garden
Belle Époque Colombian emerald solitaire ring, French, circa 1895.
Ref: 28088
Colombian emerald and diamond cluster ring, circa 1905. Hatton Garden
Colombian emerald and diamond cluster ring, circa 1905.
Ref: 28100
Colombian emerald and diamond cluster ring hatton garden
Colombian emerald and diamond cluster ring, circa 1970.
Ref: 27795
Boucheron Colombian emerald diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Boucheron Colombian emerald and diamond ring, French, circa 1920.
Ref: 25075
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Updated 18/05/2024 at 3:51PM

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