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About Minerals

Birthstone of May

Emeralds are fascinating gemstones. They have the most beautiful, most intense and most radiant green that can possibly be imagined. Inclusions are tolerated. In top quality, fine emeralds are even more valuable than diamonds.

The name emerald comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' via the Old French 'esmeralde', and really just means 'green gemstone'. Innumerable fantastic stories have grown up around this magnificent gem. The Incas and Aztecs of South America, where the best emeralds are still found today, regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone. However, probably the oldest known finds were once made near the Red Sea in Egypt. Having said that, these gemstone mines, already exploited by Egyptian pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C. and later referred to as 'Cleopatra's Mines', had already been exhausted by the time they were rediscovered in the early 19th century.

Written many centuries ago, the Vedas, the holy scriptures of the Indians, say of the precious green gems and their healing properties: 'Emeralds promise good luck..'; and 'The emerald enhances the well-being ..'. So it was no wonder that the treasure chests of Indian maharajas and maharanis contained wonderful emeralds. One of the world's largest is the so-called 'Mogul Emerald'. It dates from 1695, weighs 217.80 carats, and is some 10cm tall. One side of it is inscribed with pray er texts, and engraved on the other there are magnificent floral ornaments. This legendary emerald was auctioned by Christie's of London to an unidentified buyer for 2.2 million US dollars on September 28th 2001.

Some of the most famous the most famous emeralds can be seen in museums and collections. The New York Museum of Natural History, for example, has an exhibit in which a cup made of pure emerald which belonged to the Emperor Jehangir is shown next to the 'Patricia', one of the largest Colombian emerald crystals, which weighs 632 carats. The collection of the Bank of Bogota includes five valuable emerald crystals with weights of between 220 and 1796 carats, and splendid emeralds also form part of the Iranian National Treasury, adorning, for example, the diadem of the former Empress Farah. In Istanbul's Topkapi Palace there are exhibits with items of jewelry, writing-implements and daggers, each lavishly adorned with emeralds and other gems.

The green of the emerald is the color of life and of the springtime, and for centuries, been the color of beauty and of constant love. In ancient Rome, green was the color of Venus, the goddess of beauty and love. Green is the holy color of lslam. Many of the states of the Arab League have green in their flags as a symbol of the unity of their faith. This color has a high status in the Catholic Church, where green is regarded as the most natural and the most elemental of the liturgical colors.