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The etymology of the word emerald is unclear. To Littré, this term came from Sanskrit. Others considered it a word of Persian origin. By distortion, these terms created the Latin word smaragdus, meaning ‘heart of stone.’ Emerald stone has been known of since ancient times. 5000 years ago, Egyptians tapped into their emerald mines to fashion jewels for the aristocracy. The Jebel Zabarah deposit, found in 1816, likely only held stones of little value. Also known as the ‘Cleopatra mines’, this deposit was named thus due to the Egyptian queen’s emerald fascination. Proud of her famous profile, the queen offered emeralds in her likeness to her entourage whether for objects or jewellery such as emerald pendants, bracelets or necklaces. The Babylonians used emerald as a currency in 2000 BC.
Emerald stone is therefore well-known to the ancients, and authors such as Herodotus or Pliny the Elder even described emerald in the form of statues. One might think that in many cases they were simply different simply stones, whose green colouration resembled that of emerald’s. However, Romans were well aware of emerald, which they brought from the Habachtal deposit in present-day Austria. Nero even used a curious optical instrument made of emerald to rectify his failing eyesight. Pliny, to whom the emerald’s green was incomparable, advised it for eye care. Stories from the Middle Ages as part of the Arthurian legend claimed that the Holy Grail was made of emerald. This receptacle of the Blood of Christ was only seen by a few knights of the Round Table.
It was in the 16th century that Spanish conquistadors unearthed the intact Columbian deposits of Chivorsera and Muzo. At the end of the 17th century, the Great Mogul Diamond was discovered, a gem of more than 217 carats, adorned with religious motifs. Today, emeralds are sometimes confused with green corundum, also known as ‘oriental emerald,’ which is closer to a ruby or sapphire.
From the silicate family, emerald stone is a beryl variety, distinguishable by its green hue. Chromium, vanadium and iron make up emerald’s composition and account for its colour. In fact, emerald’s colouration, which is one of four main precious stones, fluctuates between green-yellow and green-blue. Subjected to fire, emerald becomes a light pearl green. With a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, this dense stone fractures in a shell-like manner, with the presence of a white streak. It is by calculating the proportion of oxygen isotopes that an emerald is recognised; this makes it possible to draw parallels with ancient stones.
Although present in more than sixty deposits around the world, emerald stone is rare. It only forms under specific geological conditions. First, its components are found in different places: from magma lodges within the earth’s crust, whilst chromium, vanadium and iron line the earth’s mantle instead. There may also be significant differences between the deposits. In Brazil, the crystals are rather impure and date from a period between 600 million and a billion years ago. In Colombia, on the other hand, they were formed 65 million years ago. During the cretaceous period, magma in the hollows of the aquatic fossil shells was able to shape crystals of remarkable purity.
Emerald stone contributes to relationship harmony, within families, friendship circles or between lovers. Conductive to friendships, it develops honesty and understanding. Emerald brings great inner calm and soothes excessive desires. It encourages benevolence and openness to others. It therefore reinforces cooperation and teamwork. Emerald contributes to the resolution of long-standing conflicts. It helps those with claustrophobic disorders. Emerald also encourages learning and sharpens memory.
In this domain, emerald relieves a variety of ailments. Helping to strengthen the immune system, emerald stone plays a significant role in the cure of viral infections such as influenza or angina. Its soothing effect on the digestive system is also noted. Emerald stone can help to purify the liver and pancreas. The power of this stone is additionally noted on vision disorders, such as cataracts. People with epilepsy and diabetics find relief in the use of this stone. It can protect the joints and preserve the spine. Its beneficial effect on heart problems or on multiple sclerosis is also well-documented. More broadly, this stone allows a better recovery of physical faculties and is recommended for convalescents.