May birthstone, the emerald is a symbol of renewal and fertility–apropos for the time of year when the world is once again in bloom. Derived from the word smaragdus, which is Greek for “green,” the emerald has been mined in Egypt since 330 B.C. When Queen Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Egypt, was crowned, she adorned herself in the stone–many of the mines near the Red Sea in Egypt are thought to belong to her; one mining site is even known as “Wadi Gamal; ” Roman for “Cleopatra’s Emerald Mine.”
Charles Krypell Necklace. Necklace, diamonds and emeralds in a ribbon design set in 18K gold, American. One Jewelers.
The emerald was worn by royalty throughout antiquity, and there are several more legendary emeralds, such as the Crown of the Andes, worn by Atahualpa, the last Inca (king) of Peru, which was set with about 450 emeralds. The largest and highest quality emeralds are still found in Columbia, although they are, and always have been, mined all over the world. The Romans considered the emerald a symbol of Venus because the green symbolized the reproductive forces of nature.
18K Gold Leopard Pin with Emerald Eyes and Diamond Bow Tie Wearing an Enamel Top Hat. 18K gold diamonds and emeralds, Italian, 1960s, approximately 2″. Brian Stewart
Some consider the emerald to have healing powers; some even think just gazing at them can have a soothing effect. The Emperor Nero was said to have had eyeglasses made of emeralds so he could watch the gladiator games and still keep his eyes healthy. In addition to being the May birthstone, the emerald is the traditional gift for the 55th wedding anniversary, certainly the marker of a healthy marriage judging by length alone. You can see more emerald jewelry at The Manhattan Art & Antiques Center here.
Kurt Wayne Earrings, diamonds and emeralds, set in 10K gold, American. One Jewelers
Dramatic fringe earrings, 18K gold, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. India, 1960s. Gallery 47
Vintage Gueblin brushed 18K gold and emerald bracelet, Switzerland. One Jewelers
Emerald and Gold Ring, 18K gold and emerald, France, 1990s. Hoffman-Gampetro
Cartier Panther Bracelet, 18K gold and emerald, France, 1990s. Botier