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Emerald gems are the most famous members of the beryl family. They are named after the ancient Greek word for green which is ‘smaragdus’. It was thought, and still is today, that the colour green is known to relieve stress and any eye strain. There are other stones, such as tourmaline, which are also green; however emerald is the only gem which is associated with the richest greens and landscapes.
The first known mines for emerald gems were in Egypt, dating from around 300 BC all through to the 1700s. Queen Cleopatra was well known for her passion for the emerald stones, and used many of them in her royal ornaments. Emeralds from Columbia were part of the plunder in the 16th century where the Spanish explorers invaded the New World. The Incas had been using emeralds in their jewellery and religious ceremonies for 500 years. The Spanish, used to treasure gold and silver more so than they did with any other gems and used to trade their gems for expensive metals. By doing this, it opened up the eyes of European and Asian royalty to emerald majesty. Legends said that those who placed the gem on their tongues were granted the ability to foresee the future. It was also thought to reveal the truth and protect them from evil spells. By wearing the gem people also believed that it could cure diseases such as cholera and malaria.
Legends have also stated that emeralds were part of the four precious stones given by God to King Solomon. It was thought and believed that these four stones were able to give the king the power over all creation. The colour of emerald gems reflects new spring growth, which makes emeralds the perfect choice for the birthstone for May. It is also a gemstone for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. Prices for emeralds have always been very high and expensive. In 2011 Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald pendants reached a total sale of over $6.5 million, with each pendant costing $280,000 per carat.
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