The Art Medium Emeralds

The ancients believed that emeralds had the power to reveal prophesy and with their uncommon properties, foretell the future. Today, of course, emeralds are one of the most revered and celebrated precious gems. With their captivating green hues, emeralds have been treasured by royals throughout history and anyone else who is attracted to their exceptional beauty. As art mediums, emeralds have been focal points for some of the most illustrious jewels and precious objects ever created.

While their beauty makes them ideal for use in luxury jewels, it’s also their durability that makes them a practical choice for use in jewelry items. Emeralds rank between 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness just under rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. As a member of the beryl family, emeralds get their extraordinary green color from trace elements of chromium. Enough of this trace element must be present; that is, emeralds must be green enough (medium to dark green) in order to be deemed an emerald and not simply green beryl. Most emeralds are found in shale deposits and nearly all will contain inclusions.

Emeralds have been uncovered in various regions of the world. In the past, Egypt and India were major sources of emeralds; to some extent, Austria was too along with Russia (specifically the area of the Ural Mountains) and parts of South America. Even today, South America, produces some of the best quality emeralds, especially the nation of Columbia where emeralds are still mined. Countries like Afghanistan, Norway, China, Australia, France, and Spain also have deposits of emeralds. Like other precious gems, their value is associated with their cut, clarity, color, and carat.

Since antiquity, emeralds have been associated with royalty and rulers. Scholars have noted that the royal rulers of civilizations like Egypt and Babylon revered emeralds which have been unearthed by archaeologists. Some archaeologists believe that Cleopatra’s emeralds may have come from a region near the Red Sea in the south of Egypt. One of the most famous historic jewels ever fashioned has been dubbed the ‘Crown of the Andes.’ This crown belonged to Atahualpa who was the last Incan king of Peru. The crown contained no less than 450 stunning emeralds.

Both ancient and modern artisans and jewelers have used emeralds to create the world’s most enchanting jewels. Emeralds can be found in crowns, scepters, and other royal jewels as well as trinkets like the famed Faberge eggs and other items this master jeweler created for the ruling tsars and their families. Today, the most luxurious jewel counters in the world boast emerald jewels like bracelets, rings, pendants, earrings, and more. Since antiquity, these prized green stones have never fallen out of fashion.