Emerald is a gemstone and a variety of the mineral beryl colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Most emeralds are highly included, so their toughness (resistance to breakage) is classified as generally poor. Emerald is a cyclosilicate.
The word "emerald" is derived (via Old French: esmeraude and Middle English: emeraude),
from Vulgar Latin: esmaralda/esmaraldus, a variant of Latin smaragdus, which originated in Ancient Greek: (smaragdos; "green gem")
Hardness of 7.5–8 on the Mohs scale
Emeralds, like all colored gemstones, are graded using four basic parameters–the four Cs of connoisseurship: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Before the 20th century, jewelers used the term water, as in, "a gem of the finest water", to express the combination of two qualities: color and clarity. Normally, in the grading of colored gemstones, color is by far the most important criterion. However, in the grading of emeralds, clarity is considered a close second. A fine emerald must possess not only a pure verdant green hue as described below, but also a high degree of transparency to be considered a top gem.
In the 1960s, the American jewelry industry changed the definition of emerald to include the green vanadium-bearing beryl. As a result, vanadium emeralds purchased as emeralds in the United States are not recognized as such in the UK and Europe. In America, the distinction between traditional emeralds and the new vanadium kind is often reflected in the use of terms such as "Colombian emerald".
The emerald was mined in Egypt as early as 330 BC, but some estimate that the oldest emeralds are 2.97 billion years old.
Cleopatra is perhaps the most famous historical figure to cherish emeralds. She even claimed ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign.
The Egyptians used emeralds both in jewelry and in their elaborate burials, often burying emeralds with monarchs as symbols of protection.
On the other side of the world, the Muzo Indians of Colombia had well-hidden and prized emerald mines. These mines were so hidden, it took the Spanish conquistadors nearly twenty years to find them.
Like other gemstones, the emerald was believed to have many mystical powers that accompanied its beauty. There were those who thought the emerald could cure stomach problems, control epilepsy, and stop bleeding. Maybe due to its soothing green color, it was also thought to be able to ward off panic and keep the wearer relaxed and serene.
Today, emerald is a symbol of loyalty, new beginnings, peace, and security, making it not only a beautiful gem to wear, but also a meaningful gift to be treasured by the receiver. It is still widely prized by the rich and famous, with Elizabeth Taylor’s famous emerald pendant selling for $6.5 million in 2011.
Source: Wikipedia - GIA