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Emerald History and Buying Guide

Updated on December 30, 2010

Comprehensive guide to buying Emeralds


Emeralds have been known and loved for at least 5000 years.  From Egyptian Pharaohs to the Aztecs and Incas of pre Colombia Emeralds have dazzled the t hearts of rulers through out History.  The first know avid collector of Emeralds was Cleopatra. Remains of "Cleopatra's Emerald Mines" were discovered about 1817, along Red Sea coast. 

Shah Jahan, the builder of the beautiful Taj Mahal, loved emeralds so much he inscribed them with sacred text and wore them as talismans to bring luck and word off evil. If you read the history of Shah Jahan you know this did not work well for him. 

 Islamic Emerald Tablet

When last Inca king of Peru was taken prisoner in 1532, his crown set with some 453 emeralds, which weighted approximately 1,523 carats was taken as a prize.  Sadly crown was sold to an American syndicate in the 1940s. The crown was broken up and sold off in pieces.

In 1747 Ottoman Padishah Mahmud commissioned the stunning Emerald a gold dagger as a gift for Nadir Shah of Iran, unfortunately the Shah of Iran was assassinated before the dagger was delivered.

Emerald and gold dagger

Shah of Iran Nasseridin Shah (1848-1896) Love gems so much he commissioned and elaborate jewel incrusted Globe.  At a height of 110 cm and a diameter of 45 cm, the globe is covered with more than 51,000 gemstones, and its wood base is covered with a layer of pure gold weighing some 35 kgs. Seas and oceans are shown as emeralds, while land masses are shown as Diamonds, Rubies and Spinels. The largest emerald used in the globe is approximately 175 carats.

The Jeweled Globe

In 1958 Harry Winston designed an Elegant Emerald tiara for the Marriage of Empress Farah to Reza Shah Pahlevi. The tiara holds seven large emeralds across its top varying from 65 carats to 10 carats.

Queen Elizabeth II a well known gem coinsurer owns many fabulous Emeralds.

Other famous Emeralds

The Chalk Emerald weighing 37.82-carat surrounded by 15 carats of Diamonds. Even with many inclusions this gems is considered to be one of the finest Columbia Emeralds in the world.

The Guinness Emerald Crystal. An uncut Emerald crystal showing great color. It is a staggering 1759 carats!

The Mackay Emerald Necklace.  This Emerald and Diamond necklace at in platinum was designed by Cartier in 1931

The Hooker Emerald Brooch a 75.47-carat emerald surrounded by Diamonds.

Maximillian Emerald Ring contains a 21.04-carat step-cut emerald




The Chalk Emerald


The Mackay Emerald Necklace

The Hooker Emerald Brooch

Unfortunately the vast majority of us will never be able to own anything as fabulous as the jewels shown above.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little treasure in our lives.   If you do your home work your can still find a great deal now a then on a really gorgeous  Emerald.


What to look for when buying an Emerald.

  • Cut: Due to their crystalline structure Emeralds are most commonly cut in Square and Octagon shapes. Round and Ovals cuts are also widely available. Fancy cut are very uncommon in Emeralds.  
  • Color: Emeralds occur in a variety of green colors, from a light luminescent blue/green to deep rich emerald green. Chromium and Vanadium are what give Emeralds their extraordinary color.
  • Clarity: Emeralds should have inclusions. Specks of carbon, fractures, cloudiness and silk inclusions are all common and should be seen in a natural minded from the earth Emerald.  Silk inclusion can not be created in a lab and is an excellent sign the Emerald you are looking at is the real thing.  An Emerald that is large, very green and has no flaws is highly suspicious.
  • Cost: Small light Emeralds can be purchases for just a few dollars.  Large Emerald can cost many thousands of dollars!
  • Care: Emeralds should be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth. You should never clean an emerald with an ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic cleaners can easily damage you gem.  Emeralds are heat sensitive, avoid sudden temperature changes as emeralds can lose their color when strongly heated. Do not wash Emeralds in hot soapy water, this can dry them out.
  • Treatment: Oiling,  the oils seep into the breaks and fissures in the gemstone to  'soften' the appearance of  flaws.  This is done to nearly all Emerals.


3.8 carat emerald showing wispy silk inclusions and 2 tiny specks of carbon.  This is considered a VERY clean Emerald. Appraised at just under $8,000


  1. The Best: known Mines are Muzo, Coscuez and Chivor in Colombia South America
  2. Good: USA, Brazil, Zambia, and Austria
  3. Fair: Norway and Russia


Other information on Emeralds


Birthstone for the month of May.

Wedding Anniversary: Emerald is the anniversary gemstone for the 20th, 35th and 55th year of marriage.

Healing properties:
Emerald with its bright green color, is another of the heart stones that can help you love yourself, breath easier and bring bliss into your life. It quiets the emotions, bringing peace and harmony into your thoughts and actions.

Mystical power: It is said to drive away evil spirits, and to preserve the chastity of the wearer. Emerald is said to bring wisdom. Believed by the ancients to empower the owner with foresight into the future, an emerald is regarded as an amulet for good fortune.

Poor quality Emerald, opaque with noticeable dark crystal inclusions. Worth about $10.00

Excellent quality Columbian Emerald




Excellent example of a Emerald from Zambia



Even with visible inclusions this is considered a very good Emerald.  



  • VARIETY OF: Beryl , Be3 Al2 Si6 O18 .
  • USES: Gemstone.
  • COLOR: various shades of green. 
  • INDEX OF REFRACTION: 1.57 - 1.60
  • BIREFRINGENCE: 0.004 - 0.008 
  • HARDNESS: 7.5 - 8 
  • CLEAVAGE: one direction, poor.
  • CRYSTAL SYSTEM: hexagonal 
  • Pleochroic: weak

Emerald Crystal Rough

Like these Emeralds? - Would you like to own one?

Now is your chance!

Great books on Gems and Rock Hounding

Colored Gemstones: The Antoinette Matlins Buying Guide- How to Select, Buy, Care for & Enjoy Sapphires, Emeralds, Rubies, and Other Colored Gemstones with Confidence and Knowledge
Colored Gemstones: The Antoinette Matlins Buying Guide- How to Select, Buy, Care for & Enjoy Sapphires, Emeralds, Rubies, and Other Colored Gemstones with Confidence and Knowledge

Colored Gemstones--The Antoinette Matlins Buying Guide : How to Select, Buy, Care for & Enjoy Sapphires, Emeralds, Rubies and Other Colored Gems with Confidence and Knowledge All the Information You Need to Buy, Collect, Sell--or Simply Enjoy--Sapphires, Emeralds, Rubies and Other Colored Gemstones with Confidence and Knowledge With more varieties than ever before to choose from, including altogether new gems, revolutionary new cuts, and new ways to buy gems--such as internet auctions and TV shopping--there has never been a more exciting time to buy or collect colored gemstones. But there are also new high-tech treatments and sophisticated frauds to look out for. Lack of information, error, or misrepresentation can make the thrill of buying a gem or piece of jewelry confusing, intimidating, overwhelming, and costly. Buyers need a source of expert guidance. This practical, comprehensive, easy-to-understand guide provides all the information you need in order to know what to look for, and what to look out for, including: * What qualifies as a "gemstone"? * How to evaluate color--and its impact on price. * Deciding between a natural gem and an enhanced gem. * Colored gemstone synthesis and treatment. * What to ask when buying the stone. * What to get in writing. * How to get what you want within your budget. * Price guides for popular gems, opals, and synthetic stones. And much, much more! Written by an "insider," this easy-to-read guide is the "unofficial colored gemstone bible" for anyone who wants to get the most for their money and enjoy what they have purchased.

Dictionary of Gems and Gemology (Spanish Edition)
Dictionary of Gems and Gemology (Spanish Edition)

The rapid growth of gemological sciences and mineralogy requires a comprehensive dictionary for gemologists, mineralogists, geologists, jewel dealers, industry, and hobbyists. The second edition of this dictionary contains about 25,000 entries – about 9,000 more than the first edition. The comprehensive definitions are now completed by more than 1,500 charts, diagrams and figures. The author offers a one-stop reference to any matter dealing with gems and gemology.

Emeralds (Fred Ward Gem Books)
Emeralds (Fred Ward Gem Books)

Part of the Fred Ward Gem Book Series. This lavishly-illustrated book in the all-color seriess includes History & Lore, Hunt for Treasure, Romancing the Stone, Jewels and Artifacts, Created Emeralds, Fakes, and Imitations, and Buying and Caring. This book provides the ideal introduction to one of the world's most famous gems. Follow author Fred Ward around the world in search for the most important examples of this and historic gemstone.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Man!! you covered pretty much everything about emerald. Thanks again.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      nice information on Emerald History and Buying Guide

      Gemology college

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      thanks for sharing your ideas with us,

      Gemology courses in mumbai

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      ~ Cupid Kisses by a Squidoo Angel ~

      ok, yes, confession.... I was looking for Emerlads :-)

    • PaulaMorgan profile image

      Paula Morgan 

      9 years ago from Sydney Australia

      as you can guess by my name I am an emerald lover... really good information here... thanks

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love emeralds and your lense about them too:) Great work - 5*!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I luv luv luv emeralds! (my birthstone)...great info & pics here...well done! *****

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image


      11 years ago from Canada

      Emerald is my birthstone - 5 stars!

    • Eklectik1 profile image


      11 years ago

      Always loved Emeralds - birthstone of my twins. Teriffic lens, learned a lot. 5 stars.

    • blonndie1965 profile image


      11 years ago

      Gorgeous! Can't wait to explore all your links!

    • blonndie1965 profile image


      11 years ago

      Gorgeous! Can't wait to explore all your links!

    • EvieJewelry profile image


      12 years ago

      5 star lens. As always filled with great information and items.

    • NAIZA LM profile image

      NAIZA LM 

      12 years ago

      Fantastic emeralds! I really learned a lot. Thank you.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      This is gorgeous work - 5 stars for you!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Emeralds, hypnotic, stunning, powerful.

      Honor the Emerald, for it holds it's on against all comers. Thanks for the images, the camera work is good, get a better lense.

    • one SquidAddict profile image

      one SquidAddict 

      12 years ago

      Welcome to the Group! Another excellent 5* lens!


    • kerryg lm profile image

      kerryg lm 

      12 years ago

      The history information is fascinating, and the jewels are gorgeous! I just love emeralds.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Super lens! I love gemstones!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Emeralds were always my late mother's favourite, so I had to visit this site. This one's for you, mom! Wow, where do you get all this information. Some of it I knew, but there's lots here that is fresh. Fantastic! All your lenses are five star! Sincerely, Fran

    • Classic LM profile image

      Classic LM 

      12 years ago

      I saw you on the stores board. Great lens! I leave you with 5*s please visit my lens(es) to rate! Thank you!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I really enjoyed your lens, packed with great information,,Chloe

      left ya some bling*****

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      The Chalk Emerald is really pretty. Emeralds are one of my favorite gems--they are just so pretty and green! :-)

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Love this lens! Thanks for stopping by my lens also.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I Love emeralds - will give you a lensroll on this one! Great job!

    • KCStargazer profile image


      12 years ago

      In Ayurveda/Jyotish, Emerald is the stone of Mercury, hence Gemini and Virgo (by the fixed Sidereal Zodiac of Hindu Astrology, not the Tropical Zodiac of modern western astrology - about a 25 deg difference). Jyotishis recommend sattvic stones, those with a pure and sweet quality for remedies.

    • KCStargazer profile image


      12 years ago

      A wealth of info and gorgeous images. Tragic about the crown of the last King of the Incas and other such losses of cultural and historical treasures. Welcome to the Kaleidoscope Group!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      12 years ago

      I just love reading your lenses. Another 5 stars!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Wonderfull job! You have a very informative lens. I voted 5 stars - I invite you to check out my lens too Live Streaming Video

    • Zen Automat profile image

      Zen Automat 

      12 years ago from New Hampshire

      Emeralds are my favorite, thanks for the for the page and all the great pictures.

    • Gail Faulkner profile image

      Gail Faulkner 

      12 years ago

      Welcome to the Best Ratings Group Nice Lens.

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 

      12 years ago from Detroit

      Look at those stones! Incredible pics. Who knew they could be inscribed with lettering and still look fabulous?


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