The emerald has been called the "Jewel of Kings" and has held a fascination in many cultures for over 6,000 years. Worn by history's crowned heads and adorned by many of the world's most celebrated (and, sometimes, tempestuous) beauties, it is a gem so prized that, carat for carat, a fine emerald may be two-to-three times as valuable as a diamond.
The emerald was the favorite gem of Cleopatra who history attributes as having one of the earliest emerald mines, rediscovered in 1817 near the Red Sea. The ancients associated the emerald with Venus, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It was said to protect lovers from unfaithfulness. If the heart was loyal, the gem would glow in a beautiful green color, and no emeralds ever glowed greener than the Bulgari-designed jewels given to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton, the latter who came to learn of Taylor's passion for Bulgari jewelry while the pair met and fell instantly in love on the Rome-based set of Cleopatra.
Taylor had been a client of Bulgari for some time, so Burton quickly grew accustomed to her fascination with jewels and chose any and every occasion to present her with a fabulous piece. He is known to have said, "The only word Liz knows in Italian is Bulgari."
Burton gave Taylor a Bulgari emerald and diamond brooch as an engagement present that she wore with an emerald necklace he gave her as a wedding gift. Emerald earrings, a bracelet and a ring followed. When John F. Kennedy proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953, he slipped on her finger a gorgeous 2-carat emerald and 2-carat diamond ring designed by Van Cleef & Arpels.
Today's Hollywood trend watchers have noticed stars choosing emerald engagement rings over the traditional megawatt diamond, such as Olivia Wilde whose funnyman fiancé, Jason Sudeikis, presented the actress with a diamond ring haloed by emeralds; Zoe Saldana and husband Marco Perego, an Italian artist, marked their engagement with a ring featuring a super-sized pear-shaped emerald in a cabochon cut; and Halle Berry's now ex-husband, actor Olivier Martinez, had created for her a standout custom-designed four-carat emerald and diamond engagement ring.
Engagement rings aren't the only way that stylish celebrities are wearing emeralds these days. At the 2014 Emmy Awards Sophia Vergara wore 30-carats of sparkling green emeralds (Colombian ones, naturally), and as Claire Danes held up her heavy 2013 Emmy for the cameras, a diamond and emerald bracelet dangled from her wrist.
RubyLUX dealer and fine jewelry connoisseur Maurice Moradof of Yafa Signed Jewels has opined the Colombian emerald as the gem with the greatest investment appreciation in today's market; a fact well appreciated by Angelina Jolie. The actress received worldwide attention when she appeared at the 2009 Oscars wearing a pair of Colombian emerald drop earrings weighing a total of 115 carats that were then valued at $2.5 million, and a matching 65-carat emerald ring worth over $1 million.
Since then, celebs including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Victoria Beckham, and private collectors alike have embraced the rage for the stunning, powerful and legendary green jewel.