Emeralds have been prized throughout the ages for their unmistakable color. Emeralds boast a deep, yet vibrant green that doesn’t occur in any other gem. Many famous figures from history, including Cleopatra, have had a passion for emeralds. And in more recent history, iconic figures such as Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor, and Angelina Jolie have also adored wearing glamorous emeralds. Emeralds have an eternal appeal due to their incredible beauty. And in this post, we’re taking a closer look at some of the most beautiful emeralds in the world. Read on to learn more about history’s most famous emerald gems.
The World’s 5 Most Famous Emeralds
The Chalk Emerald
The Chalk Emerald is an extraordinarily beautiful 37.82 carat emerald. This emerald is notable not only for its size, but for its impressive color and clarity. Though we do not know the exact date the Chalk Emerald was discovered, we know that it was sourced from Colombia. And, according to legend, the Chalk Emerald was once owned by a Maharani of Baroda, India.
The Chalk Emerald was originally 38.4 carats, but its size was slimmed down slightly by Harry Winston when it was set into its current home: a spectacular platinum, gold, and diamond ring. The Chalk Emerald was donated to the Smithsonian in 1972 by its most recent owners, Mr. and Mrs. O. Roy Chalk. The Chalk Emerald is currently available for public view in the Gem Gallery at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme Marie Therese of France
The Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme features a beautiful array of emeralds, including a staggeringly large emerald at its center. This tiara was a gift that Louis Antoine gave to his wife, the Duchess of Angouleme (the only surviving child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette). In 1819, Louis Antoine had the Jewelers Evrard and Frederic Bapst create this tiara, which is a masterwork set with 40 emeralds and 1,031 diamonds.
The Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme is notable both for its beauty and its historical value. This impeccably crafted tiara is one of very few intact pieces of jewelry that remains from the French Bourbon Restoration Era. This tiara remained the property of the French crown for many years, but is now owned by the Louvre, where it is currently available for public view.
The Guinness Emerald Crystal
The Guinness Emerald Crystal is one of the largest gemstone-quality crystals ever discovered. Weighing in at 1,759 carats, this uncut emerald was found in the Cosquez mines of Columbia. Currently, the Guinness Emerald Crystal is privately held in the collection of the Bank of the Republic of Columbia.
The Mogul Mughal Emerald
The Mogul Mughal Emerald is a beautifully carved 217.80 carat emerald. This emerald was originally mined in Columbia, after which it was sold to a figure in the Mughal Empire of India. The Mogul Mughal Emerald bears an inscription of a Shi’a Muslim prayer written in Arabic. In addition to the inscribed prayer, this emerald is inscribed with a date: 1107 A.H. (1695 – 1969 AD), which falls within the reign of the emperor Aurangzeb. Because the Mogul Mughal Emerald features a Shi’a prayer, it is speculated that this emerald was owned by a courtier or officer of Aurangzeb and not by Aurangzeb himself. This is theorized because the rulers of the Mughal Empire were Sunni, rather than Shi’a.
The Mogul Mughal Emerald has had numerous owners over the years. It was most recently sold to an anonymous buyer at Christie’s auction house in 2001. The Mogul Mughal Emerald is currently in the possession of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, where it is on display.
The Seringapatam Jewels
The Seringapatam Jewels is a collection of spectacular emerald jewelry. This collection features a necklace, a brooch, a bracelet, and a pair of drop earrings, all of which are crafted from emeralds, diamonds, platinum, and gold. The emeralds within this jewelry were given to a British Major-General, George Harris, after his historic victory at the Battle of Seringapatam in India in 1799. The emeralds remained heirloom pieces within the Harris family and were not set into jewelry until 1874. Lord Harris (the fourth of his name) had the emeralds set into jewelry for his wife Lucy Ada over a 13 year period, from 1874 to 1887.
The exact location of all the Seringapatam Jewels is currently unknown. Eventually, the Harris family sold the Seringapatam Jewels to various buyers. It is speculated that many of the emeralds within the historic Seringapatam Jewels were removed from their settings and reset into new designs.
Featured Emerald Pieces
Feeling the emerald love? Below, we’ve highlighted a couple of our favorite emerald pieces that can help you add a vibrant, luxe pop of green emerald to your life!
Halo Emerald Stud Earrings
As you can see from the famous emerald pieces we detailed above, it’s very popular to combine emeralds with diamonds in jewelry. Diamond settings (and diamond halo settings in particular) provide a beautiful white backdrop that makes the rich green color of an emerald pop.
The diamond halo set emerald stud earrings pictured above show just how beautiful emeralds and diamonds look together. In this design, two round cut emeralds are enclosed in shimmering pave diamond settings. These halo settings amp up the glamour and enhance the color of this set’s beautifully colored center emeralds.
Bezel Set Emerald Stud Earrings
Another stunning way to wear emeralds is within chic, minimalistic solitaire earrings. We love bezel settings, like the ones pictured above, for solitaire emerald stud earrings. Bezel settings have a sleek, modern look and they also provide the best protection for your emeralds.
Wondering why emeralds need protection? Though emeralds are a hard gemstone (ranking in at 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness), they’re actually a bit fragile. All emeralds contain a high level of inclusions, the flaws within a gemstone. While inclusions are considered a negative trait in diamonds, they’re actually desirable within emeralds. Jewelers and gemologists consider an emerald’s natural inclusions a part of its charm and beauty. Though inclusions add to an emerald’s beauty, they also make emeralds a bit more fragile and more prone to chipping or breaking than other gemstones. But bezel settings help to protect the edges of an emerald, which guards against bumps or drops. So bezel set emerald stud earrings are not only beautiful, but highly practical.