For thousands of years, emeralds have been one of the world’s most sought-after gemstones. People from all walks of life have been drawn to their deep, rich green color, and mystified by their rarity. Here are some of the world’s most famous emeralds.
10 of the World’s Most Famous Emeralds
- Mogul Mughal Emerald
- The Bahia Emerald
- The Chalk Emerald
- The Stotesbury Emerald
- The Crown of the Andes
- Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme Marie Therese of France
- The Guinness Emerald Crystal
- The Seringapatam Emeralds
- Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald and diamond pendant and brooch
- Cleopatra’s Emerald Collection
1. Mogul Mughal Emerald
The Mogul Mughal Emerald is one of the largest and most unique emeralds in the world. While the exact year of this emerald’s origin is unknown, inscriptions on the gemstone date back to 1107 AD. Weighing a whopping 217.80 carats, this tabular emerald feature 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 to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar in 2008.
2. The Bahia Emerald
The Bahia Emerald is the largest single shard of emerald in the world. The stone weighs 752 pounds – yes, pounds. While this emerald was originally mined in Bahia, Brazil in 2001, it eventually made its way to the United States. It narrowly escaped flooding during Hurricane Katrina while it was being stored in New Orleans, and was recovered after being stolen from a secured vault in California in 2008.
Estimated to be worth well over $400 million, the Bahia Emerald is the subject of a legal battle between Brazil, USA and some mining corporations. It is currently in a secure location under the protection of the U.S. government.
3. The Chalk Emerald
Originally mined in Colombia, The Chalk Emerald is a scintillating 37.82 carat emerald. It was briefly under the possession of the maharani of Baroda. Harry Winston had it set into a mammoth cocktail ring wrought in platinum and gold, and embellished with diamonds. In 1972, Mr. and Mrs. O. Roy Chalk (the emerald’s last private owners) donated the Chalk Emerald to the Smithsonian Museum.
The Chalk Emerald is now housed at the Gem Gallery in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald and diamond pendant/brooch
Hollywood royalty also has a penchant for emeralds. During shooting for the movie Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with her future husband, Richard Burton on the set. During these early days of their romance, Burton presented Taylor with an emerald and diamond pendant/brooch.
The 23.46 carat emerald was worn by the actress on her wedding day. In 2011, it was sold at Christies for $6.6 million becoming the most expensive emerald jewelry ever sold at an auction.
4. The Stotesbury Emerald
The Stotesbury Emerald is one of the most famous emeralds in the world. It was famously owned by three renowned American collectors: Evelyn Walsh McLean, May Bofils Stanton and Eva Stotesbury. It was also set into Jewelry by two famous design houses, namely Cartier and Harry Winston. In 2017, The Stotesbury Emerald was sold for one million USD at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction.
5. 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 made with 18-22 carat gold, and features 450 dazzling emeralds. The largest emerald in the crown is the Atahualpa Emerald, weighing an estimated 45 carats. Worth around $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.
6. Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme Marie Therese of France
The Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme is one of the most famous Tiaras in the world. The design features floral motifs and the tiara is made with 40 emeralds and 1,031 diamonds. One large cushion cut emerald sits at the center stone of the piece, and is surrounded with 18 round cut diamonds.
The Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme has great historical significance as one of the only surviving jewels from the French Bourbon Restoration Era. The crown remained with the Royal family of France for many years but is now housed in the Louvre, and is available for public view.
7. The Guinness Emerald Crystal
The Guinness Emerald Crystal is one of the largest gemstone-quality crystals known to man. Discovered in the Cosquez mines of Columbia, this elongated uncut emerald weighs a whopping 1,759 carats. It has a bright green color with a soft yellow undertone which is typical of Cosquez emeralds.
The Guinness Emerald Crystal is held privately at the Banco Nacionale de la Republica in Bogotá.
8. The Seringapatam Emeralds
The Seringapatam Emeralds are a set of jewels that consists of a necklace, a brooch, a bracelet, and a pair of drop earrings. In 1799, in recognition of his valor in the historic victory at the Battle of Seringapatam British Major-General, George Harris was presented with the emeralds. It was only in 1874 that his descendent, Lord Harris The 4th had the stones set into the jewelry for his wife Lucy Ada.
It took 13 years for the jewels to be made. Later, The Harris family sold the Seringapatam Jewels to different buyers.
9. Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald and diamond pendant and brooch
Hollywood royalty also has a penchant for emeralds. During shooting for the movie ‘Cleopatra’, Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with her future husband, Richard Burton on the set. During these early days of their romance, Burton presented Taylor with an emerald and diamond pendant/brooch. The 23.46 carat emerald was worn by the actress on her wedding day. In 2011, it was sold at Christies for $6.6 million becoming the most expensive emerald jewelry ever sold at an auction.
10. Cleopatra’s Emerald Collection
The Egyptian Queen was said to be obsessed with emeralds, and utilized the mines in Egypt to her advantage. Egyptians believed that 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 and was even known to gift visiting dignitaries a large emerald carved in her likeness.
Upon Cleopatra’s death in 30 BC, Egypt was annexed to the Roman Empire, and with it her treasures too. While Cleopatra’s emeralds may have been lost in history, Ancient Roman emerald jewelry gives an idea of what this jewelry must have looked like.