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The emerald is known as the Queen of Gems, and the gem
of queens. The most prized is pure green or slightly bluish
green. Emeralds are often characterized by a garden of
included crystals trapped within. Under magnification, you
will see all sorts of lovely patterns resembling foliage in a
garden. A flawless, clear emerald is very rare and is usually
found in only small sizes. Small to medium sized stones are
often faceted in the “step” or emerald cut. The gem is also
lovely when cut into a cabochon or dome shape. Sometimes
emeralds are even carved.

The ancients held the emerald in great esteem, believing
they sharpened the wearer’s eyesight and mind. The
earliest engravers kept emeralds on their worktables to gaze
upon from time to time to rest their tired eyes. Travelers
relied on emeralds as protection against the hazards and
perils of long journeys. The green gem was also said to give
its owner the power to predict the future.

The emerald, as green as spring grass and new foliage, will
always be the symbol of faith, kindness, goodness and the
promises of nature. Lovers believed the gem was endowed
with the power to reveal the faithfulness of one's beloved.
The emerald's supposed healing benefits included curing
fever and epilepsy when worn around the neck. If
suspended so that a stone touched the abdomen and
another emerald was placed in the mouth, the result was
supposed to be relief of the ravages of dysentery.

At the time of the Spanish conquest, an emerald the size of
an ostrich egg was worshipped by the Peruvians and called
the Emerald Goddess Umina. Like other precious relics, it
was only displayed on high feast days, when the Indians
flocked to the shrine with gifts for the goddess. The priests
had suggested the donation of emeralds, saying that they
were daughters of the goddess and she would be pleased
with them. A huge store of emeralds was thus collected, but
they were destined to fall into the hands of the Spanish
conquerors. The mother emerald, however, was so cleverly
hidden that the invaders never found it. Many of the pillaged
emeralds were destroyed because the new owners thought
the test of a real emerald was it ability to withstand the
blows of a hammer. The old and entirely false myth that a
genuine diamond could survive such a text may have been
responsible.
The emerald has been the favorite of many historical
figures. Alexander the Great had a large one set in his
jeweled girdle; and emeralds were prominent among the
stones in Charlemagne's crown.

The word emerald has been traced to many ancient
languages and in each case means "green." As the
birthstone for those born in May, the emerald denotes love
and success.
They are found mainly in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia and
Zimbabwe.