Ahhh, Emerald - gem of eternal Spring!
Emerald is the birthstone of May, the anniversary gemstone for the 20th and 35th years of marriage and the birthstone for the Zodiac signs of Taurus and Cancer.
The emerald has been a highly prized gem in many cultures for over six thousand years. Carat for carat, a fine emerald may be two or three times as valuable as a diamond. Unfortunately, this lovely gem has had a violent history. In Columbian region, it began with the murder of local Indians by the Spanish conquistadors trying to force them to reveal the location of emerald mines. The murder of over 900 people in 1972 was due to disputes over the control of emerald bearing regions. Many corporations, groups and government agencies have controlled the emerald mines over the years, and each of them had their share of theft, murder and corruption. After the violence of 1972 the Colombian government closed down the mines and gave private businessmen leases to run the mines. Although this has stabilized the region and reduced the violence, a good percentage of emeralds are mined illegally, or have strong connections to the drug cartels.
Emerald mining in the US has had it's share of tragedy, including a lawsuit in the mid 1980's. An emerald crystal of record size was discovered in North Carolina. The dispute was resolved when one of the parties cut the 14 inch crystal in half, destroying the value of this priceless gem.
Emeralds are found in many countries, but Columbia and Brazil are the major producers and Columbia is recognized as the source for the finest stones. They are also found in Pakistan, Russia, Australia, South Africa, India, Norway and the United States.
Green is considered Nature's most soothing color, and early doctors had their patients look through pieces of emerald to treat eye diseases. Medicine made from powdered emeralds was used to "cure" diseases such as epilepsy. Many people believed that placing an emerald under the tongue enabled them to see the future. Legends tell of a Spanish settler who discovered a beautiful emerald stuck in the hoof of his lame horse. When it was backtracked, it led to the now famous Muzo mine.
Emerald is a stone of love and romance. It brings joy, enhances intuition, faith and promotes truthfulness. Another legend says that if an emerald is given by one sweetheart to another, it will pale and grow dull when the love between them fades.
My personal favorite is the legend of Emerald City . . . follow the Yellow Brick Road!
by Jill Quisenberry