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Emeralds – the magical fulfilment of dreams

The Emerald City at the beginning of the book ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is a metaphor for the magical fulfilments of dreams - and we certainly know many people who dream of owning an Emerald, one of the Big Four gemstones and the most valuable of the green gemstones.


Aquamarine and Morganite

Emerald is a member of the Beryl Family, although it is difficult to believe that Aquamarine and Morganite are the same mineral as, unlike them, it is rarely found large and is always included.  The colour is, at its best, an intense green, sometimes blue-green, sometimes yellow-green. The Romans felt its green was relaxing on the eye, so much so they pulverised Emerald to make expensive eye balm.


Emeralds appear regularly throughout history and there are many pieces still around whose history goes back hundreds of years. One of the largest engraved Emeralds is the Moghul Emerald, weighing 217.80 carats, measuring 5.2 x 4 cms, and dating back to 1695. One side is engraved with a beautiful floral design and on the other side a prayer carved in decorative Arabic calligraphy.


One of the saddest and most poignant historical Emerald stories is the origin of the nine pillars of the Andes. These are nine pieces of rough Emerald, weighing 91.69 carats, from the Muzo mine in Colombia, found in the shipwreck Nuestra Senora de Atocha.  Owned by King  Philip IV of Spain, the ship left Veracruz six weeks late because her cargo was financing  the 30-year war and the King’s finances were running very low. As a result she sailed in hurricane season and, together with Santa Margarita, on the 6th September 1622 she sank off Florida Keys. Their cargo was so valuable the Spanish spent years trying to salvage it.  Santa Margarita’s cargo was successfully retrieved but the ship Nuestra Senora de Atocha wasn’t found until 1980, by Mel Fisher who had searched for it for 16.5 years.

Gemstone Mining

The main sources of Emeralds are Brazil, Colombia, Zambia, Pakistan and Africa, each having its own characteristics. Emeralds from Zambia are a distinct blue-green, whilst Brazilian Emeralds are a more yellow-green. Most of the Emeralds in the British market today come from Brazil. The most romantic source has to be Colombia, whose Emeralds have been known since the 1600s and were carried by the Portuguese to India.  The oldest source of Emeralds is Egypt and Cleopatra’s mines. Cleopatra was said to be very enamoured of this green stone.


More recently we all admired the tiara worn by Princess Eugenie at her wedding. The Greville Emerald and Diamond Kokoshnik style tiara was made in 1919 by Boucheron for the socialite Mrs Greville and features a large Emerald cab weighing  93.70 carats in the centre.  Mrs Greville left it in her will to the Queen Mother and the Queen inherited it in 2002.


Princess Eugenie Wedding
Emerald Bangle

Meanwhile, here at GF Williams we were all excited to help one of our staff choose an Emerald for her Mother’s 50th Birthday. The result was a beautiful bangle with a velvety Emerald pear-shape that anyone would be proud to wear - a celebration of motherhood and love.

Gemstone specialists GF Williams supplies a huge range of high quality coloured gemstones and is an expert and experienced gemstone supplier to designers, manufacturers, collectors and private clients.

Find out more about how GF Williams can fulfil your gemstone requirements by browsing our online gemstone catalogue or contacting our friendly team of gemstone experts on +44 (0) 207 405 5477 or email