Emerald is the birthstone for May and is considered the second most precious gemstone after diamond. Emeralds are in fact 20 time rarer than diamonds. Color is the most important factor when assessing the value of an emerald, whilst an emeralds clarity ranks far lower as it is exceedingly rare for an emerald not to have flaws and inclusions. Most gemstones that contain flaws are dramatically devalued, however this is not the case with emeralds, in fact inclusions often add to the vibrancy of the stones. The most desirable emeralds have an intense deep green color, which sparkle with life when properly cut.
Emeralds have a fascinating history. Going back through time emeralds have always been an object of desire. The last Pharaoh of Egypt Cleopatra was not just known for her love affairs but also for her avid love of emeralds.
When the conquistadors arrived in South America, they witnessed Inca rulers wearing emeralds. To the Incas and the Aztecs, the emerald was a sacred stone.The Spaniards plundered thousands of the gemstones and tortured the Inca people to reveal the source of the deposits and began to mine them, however due to many uprisings and attacks mining had to be abandoned. Today there are still attacks from the descendants of these same tribes on the Muzo mine where the most valuable stones are quarried.
The Crown of Andes is perhaps one of the most famous emerald set pieces, dating back to 1590's. The crown is set with 450 emeralds and is cast in 20 carat gold. The crown was created as an offering to the Virgin Mary for saving the city of Pompayan from the smallpox epidemic which swept the country at that time.
It takes a very unique set of geological conditions to produce emeralds as the elements that meld to create an emerald are located at very different depths within the earths crust. Colombia has the biggest depository of emeralds by far, where it is estimated that as much as 90% of the worlds emeralds have been mined. Small pockets of emeralds have also been discovered in areas from Brazil to East Africa and as far away as Afghanistan.
Emeralds have long been associated with good fortune, eternal youth and love.