The emerald was well known since the earliest times; In fact, Teofrasto and Pliny spoke to them indiscreetly.
Pliny himself had already specified that emerald and the beryl were a unique substance. The Cardan physicist pointed out the emerald, for its green colour, the gem more grateful to the eye, the noblest and defined it as gemmarum omnium praetiosissima meaning all precious gems.
Indeed, it can be said that the green colour in the gems is among the most appreciated colour in all parts of the world; In fact, in all ages, especially among the Asian and South American people, the green stones enjoyed great favour.
In ancient times the kingdom of the Pharaohs was the chief emerald supplier and it is therefore probable that all the known stones were derived from the Kosseir mines in Upper Egypt, then those named by Cleopatra for the impulse given to them under that kingdom.
After the prosperity of the product ceased, such mines were abandoned; emeralds equally came to the east, but through long and painful journeys of special caravans of Phoenicians and Armenians who bought stones from the wild tribes of Scythia, an ancient region of southern Russia between Danube and Don.
These tribes had bought the emerald market which was supplied in turn by the wild and enigmatic villagers of a frozen country in the northeast of Don. It was said that the emeralds were formed in gold caves, guarded by fiery claws of guardians, and that only the direct relationship with the spirits and the souls of the dead of the aforementioned mysterious people gave them the power to take possession the precious gem.
Because of this tremendous difficulty in getting it, emerald was a stone very precious to the ancients both in the East and in the West. A grand vogue was recovered in Europe at the beginning of the 16th century following the famous Spanish conquests in Central and South America; Especially by Hernan Cortés (1485-1547), which brought enormous riches from metals and precious stones from those lands, Spain became the richest country of the old world.
The aforementioned Egyptian mines were abandoned for various reasons and to the point of completely losing their knowledge of their topographic position. For this reason in the Middle Ages it was believed that emeralds had never been found in Egypt, but came from America through the East. It was only after the rediscovery of the Egyptian fields by Frédéric Cailliaud in 1818, that such doubt was clarified;
Emerald was considered as a symbol of hope, joy and chastity, and also a symbol of St. John the Apostle.
Many were the fables and virtues attributed to the emerald. According to Pliny, Cardan and many other authors, the emerald comforts life and makes it “for longer space.” It should be remembered in this regard that Nero used a concave emerald through which he observed the occurrence of crazy circuses.
Mercuriale asserts that the emerald swallowed in tiny fragments is an excellent remedy against the intestinal disorders due to poisoning.
The most common among the many virtues attributed to this gem are those for women who are close to giving birth could accelerate it by tying an emerald to their thighs or delaying it by placing it on the belly.
Carried to the finger was considered to be a great contributor; However, Emullero asserts if he unfortunately comes out of the ring, he communicates death to those who he approaches.
The emerald among many people was considered a symbol of chastity and virginity; In this respect, the fairy tale allowed by all the ancient authors, according to which the emerald refuses the connection of Venus and that in that act it breaks if it is brought to the finger by man or woman. Here comes the precise fact that the king of Hungary, on the first night of marriage, when meeting the Queen, the magnificent emerald had his finger broke in three pieces.
It is as strange as all of these fairy tales, some even documented with precise examples of people and places, are reported by all the old writers without comment and without any shadow of doubt.
It was established, however that in Peru, in the valley of Mantu, the Indians worshiped, in the name of Goddess Emerald and Goddess of chastity, a magnificent emerald of the thickness of an ostrich egg. Their priests took advantage of this belief to take possession of the emeralds that were found in the territory, generalizing the faith in the indigenous people, which was most pleasing to the Goddess Emerald, was receiving such gems for sale in exchange for which the Goddess would protect from all evil, watched over the chastity of the maidens and the fidelity of the brides. The consequence of this belief was that in solemn festivals from all the valley countries, the indigenous people came to the shrine of the Goddess by offering all the emeralds they possessed. In this way, the priests collected a remarkable amount of stones which, when the Spaniards occupied Peru, took possession of the latter.
It seems however, that the big emerald mentioned above, namely the Goddess Emerald has been stolen by the priests, and there was no news of it.