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Emeralds-art - 3/27/10


"Emeralds Throughout History" by Lady Rutilia Fausta.


NOTE: See also the files: Diamonds-art, Rubies-Spphrs-art, jewelry-msg, jewlry-storag-msg, gem-sources-msg, amber-msg, A-Lapidary-art, lapidary-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



This article was first published in 2009 "The Tydes", the newsletter of the Barony of Lyondemere in the Kingdom of Caid.


Emeralds Throughout History

by Lady Rutilia Fausta


                  In the SCA, some people pick their jewelry for its beauty, and some pick it for its history. One of the most period gemstones is the emerald- a variety of green beryl. Emeralds have been used as jewelry for thousands of years. The name emerald comes from the Greek word smaragdos (σμάραγδος) [1], which simply means "green stone". Emeralds are actually the same mineral as aquamarine! The green color comes from the element chromium. These gems are beautiful, though they can be quite fragile. They have a hardness of 7 1/2 to 8 (quartz is a 7, sapphire is a 9, 10 is diamond- so it's moderately hard) but are often full of 'inclusions'- small flaws and cracks, making the gems less clear and more prone to breakage.


                  Some of the most famous emeralds of early history came from mines commonly called "Cleopatra's mines" (Wadi Gamal), near the Red Sea in Egypt. Wadi Sikait in Egypt is called the world's first emerald mine, mined for emeralds as early as the Ptolemaic period, around the end of the 1st century BCE. During our time period, the Spanish discovered emeralds in Colombia, and emeralds became a major trade item for Spain.


                  Emeralds have been talked about for ages; they are referred to in the bible about Jerusalem-(And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald),  and by Pliny the Elder (Nothing greens greener). It is said Cortes mortally offended Queen Isabella when it was reported he had found an enormous emerald in the New World- and he decided to gift it to his fiancé and not the queen.


A Roman earring with pearls, gold, and emeralds.


Roman jewelry with emeralds, gold, carnelian (orange) and unknown stone (black, far right)


Empress Theodora, 6th century arrayed in pearls and emeralds


Byzantine cross, brought back from the sack of Constantinople by a crusader, said to contain a fragment of the True Cross.


Archer's ring, rubies and emeralds, India or Pakistan, 17th century


16th century gold cross, Spanish


                  Note that in all of these pictures, the emeralds are in cabochon form- gently rounded forms that are not faceted like we think of the 'emerald cut' today. Faceting gemstones is thought to have started around the end of the 13th or beginning of the 14th centuries. Faceting is meant to enhance the refraction of light through a gemstone- and emeralds are not "sparkly" stones, and are quite fragile so even when faceted they are often cloudy and somewhat opaque.  Emeralds are usually quite full of inclusions and somewhat brittle, so faceted emeralds are seen less often in period jewelry than the cabochon style, even towards late period. Emeralds have also been carved into fantastic shapes- the Mughal emerald is 217 carats and engraved with Shia'a/Shiite invocations (1697), the Emerald Unguentarium, a carved emerald vessel (over 3,000 carats)(1641), and the Caravel Pendant, a ship carved out of emeralds and set in gold(1580-1590.)


                  Emeralds are beautiful, vibrant, and extremely appropriate to the periods we re-create. So, ladies and gentlemen, go shopping for that emerald you have always wanted- now you know that it's a historical tradition to own and wear them!


[1] - http://concordance.biblos.com/smaragdos.htm


Selected sources;

http://books.google.com/books?id=50NBM97YtQkC  From Satan's Crown to the Holy Grail- Emeralds in Myth, Magic and History, much of the book is online at google- a great read!



http://www.geoscienceworld.org.mcc1.library.csulb.edu/cgi/search?author1=Harrell,%20James%20A.&gswsubscriber=true&src=gr">James A. Harrell

Archaeological geology of the world's first emerald mine
Geoscience Canada
(June 2004), 31(2):69-76


The Curious Lore of Precious Stones by G.F. Kunz. J.D. Lippincott. 1913


Gemstones of the World by Walter Schumann. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.






Copyright 2009 by Jennifer Kelly. <jen at zenofjen.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org