News & Insights

Colombian Emeralds

5th March 2024.

Following Christopher Columbus’ discovery of South America in 1492, great quantities of precious metals and gemstones were brought to Europe. After several decades of trading and looting, the Spanish began to locate the mines from whence their treasures came. However, it took until 1567 to discover the Muzo and Chivor emerald mines in modern day Colombia, situated deep within inhospitable jungle-like terrain. The story goes that one of the mines was discovered by the Spanish after an emerald fragment had become lodged in the hoof of a cavalier’s horse, which helped them narrow down the search area.


An Art Deco Colombian Emerald, Diamond and Onyx BroochEstimate: £7,000-10,000 plus buyer’s premium

These mines produced some of the most exceptional quality emerald, which had a stunning deep green hue. As well as the difficulties in reaching the mines, extraction of emerald had to be carried out with meticulous accuracy, so as not to risk damaging this fragile material. 

A Belle Epoque Colombian Emerald and Diamond Brooch, Estimate: £7,000-10,000 plus buyer’s premium

One of the most elaborate jewels made with Columbian emeralds is the Crown of the Andes. This piece was created gradually, with additions being incorporated over a long period of time. It was originally made to be worn by a statue of the Virgin in the cathedral in Popayán, Columbia, circa 1600. Given its great value and interest it was eventually removed from the cathedral and sold, and now resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York VIEW NECKLACE 

An Early 20th Century Colombian Emerald and Diamond Brooch, Estimate: £1,500-2,000 plus buyer’s premium

Colombian emeralds are still considered to be the finest in the world and are always well admired when they appear at auction, and we are delighted to have several Colombian emeralds from two private collections going under the hammer in our Fine Jewellery, Watches and Silver Sale on 16th March.

An Early 20th Century Colombian Emerald and Diamond Cluster Ring, Estimate: £800-1,200 plus buyer’s premium



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