Emeralds at O’Reilly’s

Emeralds are first thought to have been mined in Egypt around 1500BC

15/03/2023     Jewellery & Gems

What better month to celebrate the lush green colour of emeralds than March; the month we celebrate our sparkling Emerald Isle and all things green.

Ireland has come to bear the nickname ‘The Emerald Isle’, this is not just due to the 40 shades of green in our lush countryside, but the phrase first appeared in a poem by Belfast born political activist and pacifist William Drennan who referred to it in his poem ‘When Erin first Rose’ "Let no feeling of vengeance presume to defile, The cause of, or men of, the Emerald Isle."

We do love all things green and emeralds are no exception; Emeralds are the mineral beryl and a little known fact is that aquamarines are also beryl and the difference is what colours the gems: emeralds are coloured by the impurities chromium and vanadium and aquamarine by iron. However, emeralds, particularly gem quality, are much rarer and sometimes even more rare and expensive than diamonds.

Emeralds are first thought to have been mined in Egypt around 1500BC, where it was believed that they stood for fertility and rebirth. Mummies were often buried with them to symbolise eternal youth.

Today, Columbia is synonymous with the precious gemstone, and they are thought to have been mined there as far back as 1000 BC. Emeralds are also mined in Zambia, Brazil and Pakistan among other countries, but the blue – green Columbian emeralds are still the most revered and the rich Columbian deposits which show no sign of depleting and are still being mined today.

As well as colour, other important factors in the value and desirability are tone and saturation; a medium dark tone and a vivid saturation being favourable. Inclusions and internal fractures are common in emeralds, and they are often oiled to mask them, this is acceptable practice, but it should be noted that hot water and chemicals should not be used to clean them, and rough treatment should be avoided.

We have lots of emerald jewellery in our forthcoming auction, some of my favourites are:

Lots: 306, 232, 165, 93 & 92


                                  Lot 306                                                         Lot 232                                                          Lot 165



                                                                                Lot 93                                                         Lot 92

Another Irish theme in our forthcoming sale is Lot 164;

A VICTORIAN CABOCHON GARNET & PEARL SET BROOCH, depicting a shamrock, mounted in yellow gold

The Victorians loved jewels with hidden meanings and symbols of love and good fortune, you will often see motifs of shamrocks, clovers, horse shoes and love heart in Victorian jewellery. This shamrock brooch from the late 1800's is a wonderful example that is sure to bring you good luck.


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