The lush green hue of emerald has soothed and excited people for centuries. The term emerald comes from the ancient Greek word smaragdus which means green gem. The green colour of emeralds has always had a place in mythology. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks, in particular, gave great importance to the striking green rock and believed it soothed eyes, and your vision could be restored when gazing at them. Several other cultures around the world also consider emerald jewelry to be the sign of spring, rebirth and fertility. For centuries now, emerald jewelry has been shrouded in legends and lore. Let’s delve a little deeper into the history behind this verdant gem.
Cleopatra cuts no lone figure among the celebrated list of royalty who showed off their personal collection of emerald jewelry. Cleopatra reportedly adorned herself and her palace chambers with emerald jewelry and even gifted them to foreign dignitaries and ambassadors. However, it is believed that Cleopatra intended this more as a display of her power and wealth rather than to strengthen international ties.
For centuries, people and cultures around the world believed emerald jewelry could be used as talismans because of mystical powers. Many people wore emerald jewelry as they believed it would confer wealth and power when worn on their body. These gems were also believed to strengthen memory an sharpen one’s wit. However, it’s most valuable power was bestowing its wearer with the ability to see into the future.
In the past eras, the Spanish, Arabs and Hindus believed that emerald jewelry could be used to cure dysentery, infection, poison and even protection against possession by demons.
To Soothe Vision
Emerald’s soothing green hue was believed to relieve fatigue from tired eyes. A number of gem cutters around the world kept emeralds on their benches. After long hours of close work with other gemstones, gem cutters would relieve stress from their eyes by looking at emerald jewelry.
Revealer of Truths
In the medieval times, emerald jewelry was held in high regard as a revealer of truths. People believed emerald jewelry could cut through spells and illusions. Many wore emeralds around their necks or held them in a small pouch that they carried everywhere to protect them from curses and evil eyes.
In the past, practising Hindus believed that offering emerald jewelry to the gods would invoke rewards and blessings from Lord Krishna. Hindu teachings also associate emerald jewelry with the planet Mercury, which has given rise to the Navaratna setting.
Western tradition, on the other hand, associates emerald jewelry with the planet, Venus. This is possibly influenced by Greek and Roman mythology where the Goddess Aphrodite or Venus emerges from the sea. As a result, western mythology matches the sea-green colour of the emerald with the Roman goddess’ namesake planet.
The Wealth of Cities
During the Age of Exploration or the Age of Discovery which lasted between the 15th and 17th centuries, there were several ancient myths and tales surrounding precious stones in India, emeralds being one of them. Europeans were keen to find the mysterious and legendary land that was believed to have enormous wealth. Wealth where entire walls and temples were covered in emerald jewelry and other precious gemstones. As history would have it, once these stories spread across Europe, several countries dispatched ships to discover the New World.
The Breastplate of Aaron
Many scholars continue to debate whether the breastplate of Aaron does include emeralds as described in the Book of Exodus. However, over the centuries, with different versions of the text being produced in multiple languages, the names of gemstones have been applied a lot more broadly and liberally than what gemologists would today. For instance, ancients used the term saphirus to describe any blue stone, but the breastplate is also believed to be adorned by sapphires. Similarly, emeralds could have been present on the breastplate or could be any green stone.
Other Myths Surrounding Emerald Jewelry
There are several other myths and legends surrounding the lush green gem. Embalmers in Egypt would bury royalty with emerald jewelry to grant them eternal youth in the afterlife. Many cultures use emeralds for protection while on long journeys. The belief was that anyone in possession of emerald jewelry would receive God’s protection.
Doctors and healers considered the stone to hold healing powers, both physical and mystical. It was believed to relive one of depression and insomnia and cure heart, kidney, lymph node and backbone related issues.
We hope this journey through the ages with emerald jewelry has inspired you to by some of your own. Head to Gehna today and immerse yourself in the vivid beauty of the emerald. Be sure to check out our blog on elegant emerald jewelry for a Taurus woman.