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“I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea, from the fishing boats at Dingle to the shores of Donaghdee”, lyrics from the Johnny Cash song, ‘40 Shades of Green’.
Certainly one shade of green, in particular, has been the subject of a popular term to refer to Ireland as - the Emerald Isles. The earliest recorded use of this term was in 1795 by poet William Drennan. Ever since, the emerald is recognised as a true symbol of Irish culture and heritage.
Of course, emerald is not just a colour - it’s a gemstone (and the May birthstone!). Jewellery of Erin has curated some of the finest emerald-fitted jewellery that Ireland has to offer. All available to you on our online store. So, let’s talk emeralds.
This precious variety of the mineral beryl typically comes in colours ranging from yellowish green to blueish green. The key here is that no emerald is not green. Emeralds achieves its colour through trace amounts of chromium and vanadium which both affect its saturation, hue and depth. Emeralds are one of the four recognised precious gemstones (the others being ruby, sapphire and diamond) making it a highly valuable, cherished jewellery.
These rare gemstones can be found in varying quantities across several countries around the world including Australia, Cambodia, Egypt and South Africa. However, Colombia leads as the biggest producer of emeralds, so much so that Colombia is estimated to produce around 90% of all emeralds. Zambia is the second-largest emerald producer in the world.
Emerald mining is known to date back as far as 330BC in Egypt. Where the famous Cleopatra, Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, had a profound fondness for emeralds, using them in her royal adornments.
When 16th Century Spanish explorers invaded the new world, they plundered emeralds from the Inca Empire (in what is now Columbia). The Incas people were already using emeralds for jewellery and religious ceremonies for several centuries before this point. The Spanish traded emeralds for precious metals like gold and silver and exposed the beauty of emeralds to European and Asian dynasties for the first time.
“Symbolically, emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.” - Leatrice Eiseman, Colour Specialist.
Over the centuries, many legends have claimed various uses for emerald, such as that the wearer will be able to prophesize the future, or that emerald could cure diseases like malaria. It was even believed to be able to ascertain whether a lover’s oath was real or not.
Dating back to the times of Cleopatra, emeralds were considered to be a symbol of eternal youth, and affluent or royal Egyptians were buried with them. The Romans derived a deeper meaning from emeralds, who believed that them to be sacred stones pertaining to the Goddess of Love - Aphrodite (or Venus). Emeralds were said to have the power to ensure that love always prospers through hardship and adversities.
In this day and age, emerald is often seen to represent new beginnings and eternal love. It is also associated with faithfulness and true connections, which is why it is a popular choice for engagement rings of jewellery to mark anniversaries.
Emeralds are believed to have soothing, healing and revitalising properties and is said to enhance mental clarity, concentration and focus. Of course, it is also the birthstone for May, bringing a profound source of energy, success in new ventures and good health. It is also considered to enable the user to see things more clearly and rationally.
In Ireland, we embrace emeralds as a token of Irish culture and heritage. It’s no secret that there’s a lot of greenery in Ireland - whether it be our plentiful fields of green or the green in our very national flag, and so wearing emerald jewellery is a statement of Irish pride.
This gemstone commands respect as something of majesty. While it is a very high-value item, there are many affordable, accessible ways to don and dazzle with emerald jewellery.
Since emeralds holds such a striking green colour, it looks beautiful with any metal and which metal to pair it with boils down to personal preference.
With their strong associations with love and truth, emeralds are perhaps most popularly featured in occasion rings like engagement or wedding rings. Where they’re used as a centre stone or as an accent side stone. They’re sometimes featured with other gemstones.
Jewellery of Erin has a very large catalogue of emerald jewellery including rings, pendants and earrings - many of which are paired with beloved Irish and Celtic symbols like the tree of life, the Celtic trinity knot or Claddagh. ___________________________________________________________________
We hope that you have gained some helpful insights from our Emerald Gemstone Guide, providing you with the origins of emerald, its meaning and its uses as jewellery.
What do you like the most about emeralds? What’s your favourite emerald jewellery?