Emerald, the birthstone for May, is one of the world's most valued gems. Mined by the Egyptians more than 3,500 years ago for the Pharaohs, this precious green stone also has been worshipped by the ancient Incas and Aztecs, the Indian Maharajas and Maharanis, and kings, queens and other royals all over the world throughout history.
The stone is prized for its shades of green, which represent the color of life and the eternally returning spring. For this reason, emerald has held a special religious position in many cultures.
The Gachala Emerald, an uncut 5-cm stone weight 858 carats, was found in Colombia in 1967. It was given to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., by famous New York jeweler Harry Winston.
Another huge, rare emerald is the Sacred Emerald Buddha. It resides on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. This venerable image was, according to historic legend, accidentally uncovered after a lightning strike on a Chedi in Northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai district in AD 1434. The temple’s resident abbot discovered stucco flaking off the image exposing a hidden green colored Buddha statute. The remaining stucco was duly removed reveling what the world now refers to as the “Emerald Buddha.”
The Mogul Emerald is one of the largest emeralds in the world. The rectangular cut tablet, which dates back to 1695, weighs 217.80 carats and is about 10 cm high. One side is inscribed with Islamic prayers and the other is engraved with opulent flower ornaments. The emerald is thought to have come from the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb --the last of the great Mogul rulers, who controlled much of India. It was discovered in Colombia by the Spanish conquistadors and most likely arrived in India through trade during the Mogul dynasty, according to experts. The emerald was auctioned off at Christie's of London for $2.2 million to an anonymous buyer in 2001.