Emerald, the pure rich vibrant green variety of the mineral beryl, can reflect all of those poetical tones, matching the first signs of nature’s annual spring rebirth and ably suited to be the birthstone for the month of May.
Green is considered a gentle colour, a restful colour, a peaceful colour. The Ancients, from Aristotle, to Nero and Hippocrates, believed in the soothing, medicinal properties of the emerald. First believed to have been discovered in either Egypt or India thousands of years ago, the gem was known to be a favourite of Cleopatra. During the sixteenth century, deposits found in Colombia eclipsed all other sources in both quantity and quality and emeralds from the renowned Muzo mine continue to hold that preeminent status today.
Famous examples include the Duke of Devonshire’s uncut emerald weighing almost 1400 carats; legendary jewels worn by the Nizams of Hyderabad, the Mughal royals and Maharajahs, were encrusted with emeralds of staggering beauty; Russia’s Catherine the Great owned magnificent specimens; Liz Taylor was gifted notable emeralds from her very generous husband, Richard Burton. Queen Elizabeth II is often photographed wearing a spectacular crown adorned with pear-shaped emerald drops, inherited from her jewellery-loving grandmother, Queen Mary.
The clarity and transparency of an emerald is affected by naturally occurring fissures, seen as noticeably eye visible inclusions and typically found in all emeralds, to a lesser or greater degree. The gems benefit from accepted industry treatments used to improve their appearance. These internal features, are poetically termed “jardin”, the French word for garden.
A Coloured Diamond and Platinum Ring by Birks, circa 1938. Sold for $60,000 at Dupuis’ Spring 2008 Important Jewels auction.
November 17, 2019
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