Emerald, the birthstone of May and the thirty-fifth anniversary stone is also the zodiac birthstone for Cancerians. Emeralds have long been cherished for their brilliant green beauty. Highly valued and desired, the brilliant green colour of emerald has never ceased to impress. For centuries only those of great wealth could bestow such a priceless a gift- the symbol of faith, kindness and purity. It is quite unknown that a fine quality emerald of good colour and clarity is actually more valuable than diamonds.

The ancient Egyptians mined emeralds nearly 4,000 years ago, and Cleopatra was an avid emerald collector. South America’s rich bounty of Emeralds was discovered by 16th Century Spanish explorers who found large Emeralds in the possession of the Aztecs and Incas.

Today, most of the world’s Emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil and Zambia. These gemstones are cut into a variety of shapes, ranging from the traditional rectangular step-cut, known as the “emerald cut,” to rounds, ovals, squares and cabochons.

One of the largest Emeralds in the world is the “Mogul Emerald”. It dates back to the year 1695, weighs 217.80 carats and is about 10 cm high. One side is inscribed with prayers, on the other side is engraved opulent flower ornaments. The legendary Emerald was auctioned off at Christie’s of London for $US2.2million to an anonymous buyer.

Emeralds have been coveted ever since ancient times. Some of the most famous Emeralds are housed in museums and collections. For example, The New York Museum of Natural History not only shows a cup from pure Emerald, which was owned by Emperor Jehingar, but also a Colombian Emerald crystal weighing 632 carats. The collection owned by the Bank of Bogota contains no less than five valuable Emerald crystals weighing between 220 and 1796 carats.

Emerald green is the colour of life and of eternally returning spring. For centuries, however, it has also been the colour of beauty and of eternal love. Even in ancient Rome, green was the colour dedicated to Venus, goddess of love and beauty. Today there are still many cultures and religions where green holds a special position. For example, green is the holy colour of Islam.