All the green of nature is concentrated within the Emerald.
– St. Hildegard of Bingen, The Geocentric Universe, 2014 (from 1179)
Rest your eyes on this stone – it speaks –
To the heart of nature. Perpetual light,
Chlorophyll form, unconditional
Emerald green. Pure
Verdant harmony, its tone
A lifeline. Almost invisible.
There between everything, so often
We forget. The heart, the grass, the leaves,
Everything that flourishes starts
Within the cradle of this hue.
Emerald stirs the song, that breaks
Into spring, brings to light what is felt,
but not seen.
Compressed inside this hexagon is
Love’s imperceptible echo.
Whatever anyone does or says, I must be emerald and keep my colour.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, AD180
A gem of talismanic status in Ancient Egypt, emeralds reflect the calming green light waves of Eden: the colour of paradise, of nature. This verdant ‘Jewel of Kings’, beloved of Cleopatra, was thought to be healing for the eyes, and to bestow clairvoyance on its wearer. According to Indian lore, the name Emerald was first translated from Sanskrit as Marakata, meaning ‘the green of growing things’. The Emerald Tablet – an ancient Arabic esoteric text – was said to hold the secret of the philosopher’s stone, which could transmute base metals into gold. It is a colour that offers life and represents vitality.
20 times as rare as diamonds, emeralds are created by huge surges in heat and pressure: the stone results from the post-surge cooling of hydrothermal liquids. A variety of the beryl, small deposits of this hexagonal-shaped crystal are found alongside aquamarines in veins of pyrite, quartz and albite. Occurring in hues ranging from yellow to blue-green, the finest emeralds are a richly verdant shade, vivid and saturated in tone. Emeralds come from distinct sources: African emeralds emerge in the meeting of billion-year-old metamorphic rock with million-year-old granite, Columbian emeralds evolved in sedimentary rock. In gems mined from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia and across to Zambia, there are tiny deposits of vanadium. However, the most highly prized are stained green from the element chromium and can be found only in Colombia, in the Muzo and Chivor mines in the lush green mountains north of Bogotá.
And here lies their appeal. Emeralds reflect the calming green light waves that represent the colour of Eden: of paradise and natural bounty, and from there wealth and prosperity. Being in green helps to create space in the mind – like a clearing – and encourages growth both mental and spiritual.
Like a deep, restorative breath, emerald opens and nurtures the Heart Chakra, even inducing a change of heart – it has been named the ‘Stone of Successful Love’. Its soothing energy provides healing and a sense of renewal or a fresh start. The colour of lasting, benevolent patience, the stone embodies unity, compassion and unconditional love. It is particularly treasured by lovers for providing domestic bliss, contentment and loyalty. In ancient times it was dedicated to the goddess Venus for its ability to ensure security in love. It is a hue that gives you permission to move forwards, to where you need to be.
Indeed, no stone has a colour that is more delightful to the eye, for, whereas the sight fixes itself with avidity upon the green grass and the foliage of the trees, we have all the more pleasure in looking upon the emerald, there being no gem in existence more intense than this.
– Pliny the Elder, Natural History, AD79
You have no need to travel anywhere – journey within yourself. Enter a mine of rubies and bathe in the splendor of your own light.
– Rumi, The Essential Rumi, 2004 (from 1273)
A cardinal gem pierces
The spectrum. Slices
the feverish pulse of Magenta
out of this world –
Cuts out its heart – keeps it,
Captive, in scarlet geometry.
Furious infra waves sealed in
The iced liquiform
Of a flame. Fresh as the
Pigeon’s blood. Flush,
Rising, sanguine, rubicund,
Accelerating towards the possibility –
Of the end. The last glittering
Bloom of death as it turns on
The first ripe colour of life. Inside,
Roseate dawn hits the crimson night.
Livid, persistent, but only
Found in the dark. A red that
Yokes the flesh back to life,
Because its heart is a rock.
As life and existence fade from things, so do colours – unless caught in the immutable fire of a gemstone. A flicker of blood-red sun, captured and refracted in a ruby’s sacred geometry, comes from absorbed short-wavelength light. Shine a light into the crystal lattice of the ruby, and fluorescence is seen.
Rubies capture colour as movement: fresh as arterial blood, alive with the fire of life. At first glance wine-dark, a roseate inner glow rises up like sunrise on a snow-capped mountain, followed by crimson flames radiating from its centre. Brilliant and beautiful to behold, it is believed this gem can have a positive effect on the heart chakra helping the wearer to find a better balance between rational and instinctive feelings for people. Sparking inner warmth and confidence, a ruby is a powerful talisman that both protects our deepest emotions and stimulates creativity.
A variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide), the hue of a ruby is set by the amount of chromiumwithin the rock. In 1879 the Bengali scholar S.M. Tagore compiled an extensive list of shades from the Purana sacred texts: “Like the China rose, like blood, like the seeds of the pomegranate, like red lead, like the red lotus, like saffron, like the resin of certain trees, like the eyes of the Greek partridge or the Indian crane…and like the interior of the half-blown water lily.” The finest rubies are of Burmese origin, and certain rubies show a three-point or six-point ‘asterism’ or star. Saturated in colour, these stones are poetically referred to as ‘pigeon-blood red’. Their purity of hue, created by the ideal balance of trace elements, hold the light just as a lover might capture your heart.
To turn a ruby in your fingers is to understand that colour is an interaction between the world and your mind. For this, rubies are symbolic of passion and romance, like the fresh spark of love. Turning heads, the ruby is the most prized of cardinal gems. A classification that dates back to antiquity, of the ‘first order’ with emerald, sapphire, diamond and amethyst, the ruby was used ceremonially, to stand for renewal in the heart of a crown, and as an oathing stone. Considered ‘the king of precious stones’ by Hindus, the Harita Smriti says: “He who worships Krishna with rubies will be reborn as a powerful emperor.”