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The rare and vibrant green Emerald has been an object of yearning among cultures around the world. Believed to encourage wit, eloquence, and foresight, it is no surprise the significance it holds within royalty and several folkloric tales.
Queen Cleopatra was a great admirer of Emeralds. She was known to be draped in this green stone of envy and was rumored to have an entire room lined in precious metals and gems.
Adorning herself in such vividly colored stones was looked upon as a political power move. Even gifting foreign dignitaries with Emerald's carved with a rendition of her. The stones vibrancy was a symbol of her country’s wealth and demonstrated the peoples' love of their queen.
Acquiring such a collection of emeralds would seem impossible, but she was lucky enough to rule over a land full of them. It is said that Egypt was the earliest known location for Emerald mining and Cleopatra took claim to these mines as her own. Few remnants remain from these original mines, however the Sikait and Zubara mines, the two largest, can still be seen southeast of modern-day Cairo on Mons Smaragdus, or better know as Emerald Mountain. Although, the mines have been exhausted of Emeralds due to the heavy mining over the many years.
European explorers started to hearing rumors about temples in faraway lands that were made entirely of emeralds and whose roads were paved in gold. The explorers were filled with fantasies that they would be lucky enough to locate these cities and take home a bounty of precious gems. This of course never happened, but when the Spaniards landed on the coast of present-day South America, they might have felt they finally found where these treasured cities of legend sit.
Unfortunately, ancient communities were taken over by the new settlers and their wealth was apprehended. The method these new settlers used to test whether the emeralds were authentic or not may bring you laughs, a cringe, or both. They would test its authenticity by smashing the Emeralds with an anvil! We now know that emeralds are very brittle and require special handling. To be fair, even a diamond could crumble when being smashed by an anvil. Even though Emeralds have a hardness of 8, they are still brittle due to their many inclusions. The hardness of a gem only measures its resistance to scratching, not it’s resistance to smashing.
So please, if you are lucky like Cleopatra and own this beautiful gemstone, handle with care. If you are rough on your jewelry but own or are in search of owning an Emerald piece, avoid everyday wear. Visit us anytime or your local jeweler to for proper cleaning and check ins.
* Photos shown are beautiful custom pieces from this last year. If you are interested in something similar please contact us, we'd love to create with you!