Emeralds are among the most beautiful and sought after of precious stones. Made mostly of beryl, these gems contain small amounts of chromium or vanadium that give them their famous green color. The highest quality emeralds are pure, translucent green and have no flaws, but most emeralds have inclusions that remind people of deep green moss. This is called the jardin.
The green of the emerald symbolizes rebirth and spring in many cultures, and the ancient Romans named it as the stone of Venus, their goddess of love. Here are five historic emerald jewels that were sold at Christie’s auction house.
Elizabeth Taylor’s Brooch
This step cut, rich green emerald is surrounded by oval cut white diamonds of different sizes. It was bought for the beautiful movie star by her then fiancé, Richard Burton, while they were filming Cleopatra. She began to wear it after they married in 1964, and it was later sold at Christie’s in 2011. With a price tag of over $6 million, it is the priciest single gem-cut emerald ever sold.
Princess Faiza’s Necklace
This amazing Art Deco platinum necklace dazzles with dozens of faceted diamonds and pendants that hold pear-shaped, lush green emerald drops. It was bought by the sister of Egypt’s King Farouk in 1947 and auctioned off in 2013 at a price of nearly 4 million Swiss francs.
Catherine the Great’s Brooch
Catherine the Great had an extensive collection of jewels, and emeralds were among her favorite gemstones. Emeralds are often found as hexagonal crystals, and the stone found in the Russian empress’s brooch is no exception. The silver-topped gold brooch features the 65 carat, six-sided mossy green stone in a double collet of tiny, rose-cut diamonds that are in turn surrounded by round, mine-cut white diamonds. In 2010 the brooch sold for a cool $1,650,500.
The Palmette Necklace
As cleverly crafted as it is beautiful, this necklace has 11 deep green, somewhat bel-shaped Colombian emeralds that weigh from a little over 3 carats to over 12 carats. Unusually, they have not been enhanced or oiled to bring out their clarity. They are arranged among 11 diamond palmettes, whose nearly colorless sparkle contrasts beautifully with the rich green of the emeralds. The necklace’s back chain is made of white diamond “leaves.” This astonishing piece was bought by a private collector in 2017 for more than $6 million.
The Grand Muzos
Collectors consider diamonds from the Muzo mines in the Colombian Andes to be the most rare and to possess the most luxurious shade of green. Two of these emeralds grace this pair of earrings, whose design is as elegant as it is simple. Each pear-shaped emerald hangs from a single white pearl which in turn hangs from a cushion-cut white diamond. The emeralds aren’t identical, as one weighs 23.34 carats, and the other weighs 23.18 carats. Despite the asymmetry, the earrings were sold twice. In 2012 they went for $4.2 million. In 2019, they were sold for $4.5 million.