The Secret Life of Emeralds

When I hit Victoria Finlay's section on Colombian emeralds in Jewels: A Secret History, I was instantly transported to the movie Romancing the Stone and it's spectacularly large, glittering green treasure. Sad that my closest association with Colombia and emeralds is a Hollywood fantasy, but unfortunately that's about as deep as I get. Well I suppose the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz comes in as a close second. Who wouldn't be fascinated by a city that reminds you of lime jello?

I love the color of leaves, grass, and moss, but for the life of me I can't get enthused about working with these kelly green stones. They are definitely pretty, and when I see emeralds paired with pearls the effect is quite stunning, but I'm guessing it must take a gorgeous brunette or red head to make these gems really come to life.

Nevertheless, my reluctance to use or wear emeralds, doesn't mean that I am not secretly fascinated by these gems. Perhaps it's my association between emeralds and opulence -- the royal booty of kings and queens -- that makes this stone seem almost magical. In the enchantment department, Finlay's book Jewels: A Secret History delivers a wonderfully romantic story of a queen and her favorite stones, when she travels to Egypt to visit Cleopatra's emerald mines.

By far the best part of this chapter on emeralds was being alongside Finlay as she makes her way across the desert and down into some ancient caves looking for emnants of the elusive stone. Her trip definitely made me feel like I was having an Indiana Jones moment!

She even had me believing in spooky ghost stories and the connection between emeralds and the messenger god Mercury, who is also the deity of sleep and dreams. I promise that you'll love this chapter for it's densely packed with all sorts of archaeological romps and tidbits about some of the most rich and famous of the ancient world.

For more information on gemstones, check out my series The Secret Life of Gems to learn more about Victoria Finlay's Jewels: A Secret History.


  1. Yes, that was a fascinating chapter! I love the way that she is so fearless and adventuresome. A real POWER girl! I cannot imagine being so brave and doing things that might have been only the realm of men at one time. I really admire her after reading these adventures. Especially since I don't even own a passport so the closest I could come to this is Romancing the Stone (one of my all time favorite movies). Enjoy the day! Erin

  2. i got the book for xmas and am going to be starting it... i know what you mean about working with the shade of green... while in the raw form is easy to admire, working with it is different... although my mom is a porcelain skinned redhead and she would look divine in them! the color would be interesting with copper - and neat in that mix of refined vs. rustic... hmmm...

  3. Romancing the Stone, what a great movie! Emeralds are fascinating with such deep color. Thanks for sharing, Beth.

  4. Yes, this was probably my favorite chapter, but then I have a real weakness for emeralds (: For even more adventure (visiting Australian Aborigines; Afganistan to see the Buddhas before they were destroyed!) from Victoria Finlay, read her book "Color: A Natural History of the Palette". Equally as fascinating a book! Thanks, Beth, for this wonderful blog.

  5. Heehee, I love Jewel of the Nile but I didn't realize it was the sequal to Romancing the Stone - brilliant, I must watch it. ;)

    You have a really nice blog! This is the first time I've dropped by but I've seen you around on etsy.

  6. Oh Erin, you must get a passport even if it stays in your drawer. The utter romance of knowing you can fly off to far off destinations on a moments notice is simply delicious!

    Mary Jane, your mother sounds gorgeous! Thanks for understanding this dilemma I have with using this shade of green in my work :)

    Leslie, so good to see you and glad you are fascinated by emeralds too!

    Catherine, why am I not surprised that you have a weakness for emeralds? Good to know more adventures await me in "Color: A Natural History of the Palette"

    Nem, oh how funny! I think I even like Romancing the Stone better so I hope you check it out. Thanks for dropping by!


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