For thousands of years, the emeralds have been one of the world’s most sought-after elements. People from all walks of life have been drawn to their deep, rich green color, and mystified by its rarity. Here are some of the world’s most notable emeralds.
The Crown of the Andes
One of the world’s most notable emerald artifacts is the Crown of the Andes. Created in 1660, this crown was created with 18-22 carat gold, and features a whopping 450 emeralds.
The largest emerald in the crown is the Atahualpa Emerald, weighing an estimated 45 carats. Worth an estimated $2.5 million, the Crown of the Andes was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2015, where it remains on display today.
Mogul Mughal Emerald
The Mogul Mughal Emerald is one of the largest and most unique emeralds the world has known. Originally mined in Colombia, this emerald was eventually sold to a ruling class family in India. While the exact year of this emerald’s origin is unknown, inscriptions on the gemstone show dates as early as 1107 AD.
Weighing a massive 217.80 carats, this emerald features engraved Arabic scripts and Shi’a prayers on one side, and a beautifully intricate floral carving on the other. The Mogul Mughal Emerald was sold during a Christie’s auction in 2001 for $2.2 million, and was later donated in 2008 to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.
The Bahia Emerald
The largest single shroud of emerald by far is the Bahia Emerald. The stone weighs 752 pounds – yes, pounds. Originally mined in Bahia, Brazil in 2001, this emerald eventually made its way to the United States. Despite its massive size, this emerald has been on quite the adventure – it narrowly escaped flooding during Hurricane Katrina while it was being stored in New Orleans, and was recovered after its theft from a secured vault in California in 2008.
Estimated to be worth well over $400 million, the Bahia Emerald is currently under the protection of the U.S. government.
Cleopatra’s Emerald Collection
Possibly one of the most famous emerald collections in history are Cleopatra’s emerald collection. The Egyptian ruler was said to be obsessed with them, and utilized the mines in Egypt to her advantage. Egyptians believed emeralds symbolize eternal youth and rebirth, and often buried their dead with emeralds to bring into the afterlife. Cleopatra was said to adorn both herself and her palace with emeralds, having several emerald jewelry fashioned for her and was even known to gift visiting dignitaries with a large emerald carved in her likeness.
Upon Cleopatra’s death in 30 BC, Egypt was annexed to the Roman Empire, and with it the emeralds as well. While Cleopatra’s emeralds may have been lost in history, Ancient Roman emerald jewelry gives an idea of what this jewelry likely appeared to be.