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The emerald is a member of what is called the "Big Three." Together, with rubies and sapphires, emeralds are one of the better-known colored stones. Like many gemstones known in ancient times, the emerald was believed to have special powers. It was supposed to cure cholera and malaria, relieve you from stress and eyestrain, as well as make you quick-witted and more intelligent.
Some of the oldest emerald mines can be found in Egypt, which continued to be an important producer until the 1700s. Today, the largest producer of emeralds is Colombia, yet smaller producers include Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Clarity is often a problem with emeralds, as they have inclusions that are even visible with the naked eye. Often, pieces like vintage emerald rings are treated to improve their clarity. Light and exposure to chemicals can affect such treatments, although most are quite stable. Whether you go for a treated emerald or not depends on whether you value the natural charm of those visible inclusions.
The emerald was a favorite gemstone of Cleopatra, who used it in many of her royal jewelry
Emeralds, especially emerald rings, are often the gemstone of choice to celebrate 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries
When the Spanish conquered South-America in the 16th century, they valued gold and silver more than gemstones, and actually traded emeralds with the Indians for those precious metals. The Indians had already used emerald in their jewelry for over 500 years