In the beloved movie “The Wizard of OZ,” Dorothy merrily skips along the yellow brick road on her way to find the Emerald City. Although it is a work of fiction compliments of L. Frank Baum, it is true that over the centuries emeralds have possessed a magnetic draw rife with mystical legend and lore. Ancient Egyptians wore them as a symbol of fertility, Cleopatra loved them so much that she had her own mines built, and the Incas worshipped the verdigris stone as a god.
The most famous of all emeralds, the Mogul Emerald, is the largest ever recorded and weighs a spectacular 217 carats. It’s elusive past has only added to the mystery surrounding the inscriptions and flowering swirls engraved into its surface. The stone has once again disappeared from the limelight as it was sold at auction to an anonymous buyer for $2.2 million in 2001.
Another famous set of green stones is the Crown of the Andes. Forged from emeralds mined deep in the Andes Mountains in the 16th century, the golden crown was adorned with 453 emeralds totaling about 1,500 carats. The crown was created as an offering to the Virgin Mary, in the hopes that she would save the people from the plague sweeping the region at the time. Whether or not it lived up to its purpose is unknown, but it’s still an ornate work of dazzling beauty currently owned by a private collector.
The third most famous emerald in history is the Devonshire Emerald. Named after the 6th Duke of Devonshire who received it as a gift from the Emperor of Brazil in 1831, it’s notable simply for its rough size of 1,386 carats.
Modern times have seen celebrities and royalty alike sporting the deep green stones. Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Taylor and Angelina Jolie are fans–in fact, Jolie’s emerald earrings and ring sparked a wildfire of interest after she donned them on the red carpet at the Golden Globes in 2011.
These days, though we no longer worship emeralds or live and die in their pursuit, the intensity of the rich May birthstone still fascinates...proving that despite time and place, everyone loves an emerald.