The Most Precious Emeralds In The World

Green, uncut emeralds.
Green, uncut emeralds.

An emerald is a precious gemstone noted for its attractive green color. It is one of the varieties of the mineral beryl. Trace amounts of vanadium and chromium lend the green color to the stone. Emeralds are widely used for astrological and jewelry-making purposes. Over the years, some emeralds have become more famous than the others, and they are listed as follows:

The Bahia Emerald

One of the world’s largest uncut emeralds, the Bahia Emerald weighs about 341 kg. It exists in the form of emerald crystals embedded in a rock. The emerald originated from Bahia in Brazil. The gemstone was mined in Bahia’s beryl mine. At one point in time, it was valued at $400 million and its current value is expected to be even higher. The gemstone is associated with a rough history. It just escaped being washed away by floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina while it was kept in a warehouse in New Orleans. In 2008, the Bahia Emerald was stolen from a secured vault in California. There is a great dispute regarding the ownership of the precious stone and several claims were made in the past that led to extended court trials to decide the who will be the rightful owner of the gemstone. Currently, the Bahia Emerald is under government protection.

The Chalk Emerald

The Chalk Emerald is one of the most famous emeralds in the world. It is a Colombian emerald that weighs 7.564 g. The royal rulers of the princely state of Baroda in India were the proud owners of this gemstone for many years. The queen of the dynasty wore it in the form of an emerald and diamond necklace. She later passed it on to her son. Over the years, the emerald changed hands several times. It was also recut from its original weight in the 20th century. The designer Harry Winston, Inc. created a ring from the diamond that was surrounded by 60 pear-shaped diamonds. For a while, the ring was in the possession of the O. Roy Chalk’s after whom it is named. In 1972, they donated it to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum where it is kept to date.

Duke of Devonshire Emerald

This emerald is one of the world’s largest and most well-known gemstone of its kind. It is an uncut emerald weighing 276.786 g. The gemstone originated in Colombia’s Muzo mine. There is some confusion regarding its transfer to the Duke of Devonshire from its previous owner, the Brazilian Emperor, Pedro I. The Emperor either sold it or gifted it to the Duke. The gemstone was named after its new owner whose actual name was William Cavendish. He was Devonshire’s 6th Duke. He received the emerald in 1831. In 1851, the public could see the emerald at the Great Exhibition in London. More recently, a 2007 exhibition at the Natural History Museum of London also displayed the Emerald.

Gachalá Emerald

This world-famous gemstone was discovered in 1967 in the Vega de San Juan mine in the Gachala town of Colombia. The emerald has an intense green color and weighs 172 gm. Currently, it finds a place in the Smithsonian Institution in the US. Harry Winston, a renowned jeweler from New York City donated it to the institution in 1969.

The Mogul Mughal Emerald

This emerald is one of the world’s biggest emeralds. It is a cut emerald that weighs 43.560 g and is rectangular in shape. Its importance is not just limited to its quality. It is also a historical treasure. The obverse side bears engravings of Shi'a invocations in the Naskh script. The opposite side features carvings of foliate decorations. These engravings render great beauty to the gemstone. The Mogul Mughal Emerald was first mined in Colombia and then sold in India. Emeralds were always a favorite gemstone of the Mughal Emperors. Interestingly, the engravings in the stone date to the 17th century when Aurangzeb ruled over India. However, the Mughals were Sunnis and the inscriptions on the gemstone are of Shi’a Islam. Hence, the emerald possibly belonged to one of the officers or courtiers of the kind. Currently, the piece is present at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

Other Famous Emeralds

This gemstone Carolina Emperor was found in the US in 2009. It is currently hosted at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The Emerald of Saint Louis was mined in Austria and is exhibited at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Another notable emerald, the Patricia Emerald is an uncut, 12-sided specimen that was dug out from the Colombian mines in 1920. It is also housed in a museum today.


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