The Story of Sandawana and Columbian Emeralds

Tessa Schlesinger
Home and Crafts
Published in
9 min readJun 23, 2020

Sandawana emeralds are the most beautiful and sought after in the world. Technically, Columbian emeralds aren’t emeralds at all.

out Angelina Jolie wearing emeralds. Photo: Fair Use

The Most Famous Emeralds in History

The Mogul emerald was found in 1695 and weighs 217 carats. It was last seen in 2001 when it was sold to an unknown buyer for $2.2 million.

The Devonshire emerald is in a vault at the Natural History Museum in London and weighs 1386 carats. It belongs to the Duke of Devonshire and is from Musa in Columbia.

The Gachalá Emerald was mined in 1967, Gachala, Colombia. It was obtained by New York jeweler, Harry Winston, who donated it to the Smithsonian.

For about three hundred years (until just before WWII), emeralds were highly sought after by royalty, the aristocracy, and the very rich as they signaled high status and incredible wealth. When looking at various diadems and crowns made for monarchs, a high percentage of them were not only set with numerous emeralds but had the central stone as a large emerald (or a sapphire).

So how do emeralds compare with diamonds?

They don’t.

Sir Ernest Oppenheimer created an artificial scarcity of the stone in the early 40s by mining them and only releasing a few into the market place. Then he used an American advertising company to create the ‘A diamond is forever’ campaign.’ It was arguably the most successful advertising campaign in history as many a lady is convinced that a man’s love can only be demonstrated by a ‘valuable diamond.’

Tessa Schlesinger
Home and Crafts

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