While white gemstones like diamonds and pearls are still considered timeless classics, in recent times gems of all hues have been making their way back into fashion. Partly, this has to do with the popularity of vintage clothing and decor, as colored gems are often associated with heirloom jewelry.
Arguably there are few colored gems more iconic than the emerald, a stone considered more affordable, yet even rarer than diamonds.
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While some estimate the oldest emerald to be around 3 billion years old, the earliest emerald mines date back to Ancient Egyptian times (around 330 BC). Some of these mines were even named after the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, who was said to have gifted her favorite subjects with emeralds carved in her likeness.
Celebrity Emerald Fans
Cleopatra isn’t the only famous person to be drawn to emeralds; a number of celebrities have also famously worn them. Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, and Elizabeth Taylor have all arrived at red-carpet events wearing emerald rings, earrings, and various other pieces of sparkling emerald jewelry.
To the Ancient Egyptians, emeralds symbolize rebirth, fertility, and eternal youth. In South America, the Aztecs and Incas also coveted shimmering emeralds, even worshiping them like gods.
Since then, emeralds have also come to symbolize true love. They’re also the birthstones for the month of May and are often used for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
When we think of emeralds and magic, we might instantly imagine Dorothy Gale and her traveling companions heading toward the Emerald City.
The mystical origins of emeralds can also be traced back to ancient folklore, where people sometimes wore them to improve intuition and memory, and in some cases, even used them as a type of truth potion.
In Search of the Emerald City
In Frank L. Baum’s original book, the City of Oz isn’t actually green, although it is so dazzling that the characters are advised to wear green glasses on entering.
Ancient Indian history features other tales of emerald walls and temples. On hearing these stories, Spanish explorers invaded the New World, later trading emeralds for precious metals.
The Meaning of Green
The recent rise in popularity of emeralds could be attributed to the ongoing trend for nature-inspired style and home decor that has been taking place over the last few years.
Green not only symbolizes new beginnings but also nature and peace; in color psychology, green is also associated with healing, having a soothing effect on the senses.
Why Emeralds Are Green
Composed from beryl, emeralds get their distinctive green color from traces of vanadium and chromium in the soil.
However, not all emeralds are the rich green color we typically associate them with; some can range from pale chartreuse all the way through to the most sought-after variety: a deep green with a slightly blue tinge.
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How to Identify a Real Emerald
While valuers often look for clarity in stones such as diamonds, emeralds are expected to have inclusions: naturally occurring flaws made from liquids, gasses, and other minerals and crystals that occur as the gemstone forms.
In the gemstone business, this is referred to as “jardin”, which is French for the garden, due to the sometimes leafy or mossy appearance of the inclusions.
How to Care for Emerald Jewelry
Emeralds are softer than other gemstones, with a rating of around 7.5 to 8 on the MOHS scale of mineral hardness.
For this reason, they are often coated in resin or a similar protective substance to maintain their clarity and to protect them, but you can also maintain their appearance at home by gently using lukewarm water and a soft cloth to clean them.
Dressing to Compliment Emerald Jewelry
Emeralds sparkle when worn with a simple monochromatic or neutral-toned outfit (casual or dressy) in solid colors to offset the vivid color of the gemstone, worn with equally low-key makeup, with an optional flick of eyeliner as a nod to Queen Cleopatra herself.
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