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Colombian Emeralds

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History of Emeralds

The first emerald deposits were formed nearly 3 billion years ago in what is presently South Africa. Over time, numerous other deposits have formed on at least 5 continents, but with most being found in Africa?, South America?, and South Asia?. The Colombian emerald deposits that produced the fine stones you'll find on this site are estimated to have been formed? between 40 and 65 million years ago.

The history of mined emeralds however is much shorter. It began about 4000 years ago in what is now southeast Egypt, some 400 miles south of Cairo. From mines in the Egyptian desert, not far from the Nile River, emeralds made their way to all parts of the 'known world'. They became prized jewels of great civilizations throughout the ancient world, to include the Romans, Greeks, Turks, Egyptians, Persians, and even as far as India.

Egypt enjoyed a position atop an emerald monopoly for a few thousand years until 16th century Spanish conquistadors came along and ruined everything. As they laid claim to the lands and riches of Central and South America, the Spanish across native Indians wearing amazing emeralds that far surpassed the beauty and quality of the Egyptian stones. These Indians had been trading in Colombian emeralds with neighboring civilizations for over 500 years! They believed the stones to be sacred objects... gifts from the gods which possessed special powers? of healing, protection, and fertility. And so, from Mexico to Peru, the Spanish encountered emerald-adorned natives and aggressively searched for the mines from which they came from. In the 1550's the Spanish finally found what they were looking for at the mines of Muzo? and Chivor?, in what is now the Boyaca province of Colombia. The native Muzo Indians fought savagely to protect these mines against the invaders but eventually were defeated and put to work in the very same mines they once called their own. Nearly a century later, rich deposits were also discovered at a place called Coscuez?, not far away.

For more than a century, emeralds flowed from Colombian mines back to Spain, Europe, and throughout the world bringing great wealth and prestige to the Spanish empire. The unparalleled color and size of the Colombian emeralds earned them their well-deserved reputation of being the world's finest. Even today, these three mining areas of Muzo, Chivor, and Coscuez are still considered without question the best and most important emerald producing mines in the entire world. Now under the security and regulation of the Colombian government, these famed emerald mines continue to produce and export top quality emeralds, and should do so for the foreseeable future.. Just as they have for the last one thousand years.


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