Monday, March 28, 2016

3/28/16 Report - History and Geology of Columbian Emeralds.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Huge 1759 Carat Columbian Emerald.
Source: Article found immediately below.
Yesterday I showed a cross found by John C. on the Treasure Coast.  It held small pieces of emerald. In the past I've shown other artifacts found on the Treasure Coast bearing emeralds and even some raw emeralds found on the Treasure Coast near shipwreck beaches.  Today I am presenting more information on South American emeralds, and the history and geology of Columbian emeralds.

Here goes.

...When the first Spaniards arrived in the New World in the early 16th century, emeralds were being worshiped, were used in jewelry, and played an important role as sacrificial offerings in ceremonies such as the famous El Dorado ceremony on Lake Guatavita, located just northeast of Bogota [Bray, 1978). Emeralds were being traded as far south as Peru and Chile and as far north as Mexico. According to Morello (1957], when Spanish conqueror Cortes met the Aztec emperor Montezuma in Mexico in 1519, the latter was bedecked with fine emeralds. Reportedly, Spanish conqueror Pizarro sent four chests of emeralds from Peru to the King of Spain in 1533. These were all undoubtedly of Colombian origin (Ball, 193 1). 

Chivor was the first operating emerald mine discovered by the Spaniards in their conquest of the New World. Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada saw the first sign of emeralds in Colombia at Turqmequ6, Boyaca, in 1537 (Colombian American Business, 1979). Quesada sent Captain Pedro F. de Valenzuela to find the source. That same year, he located the well-developed Chibcha Indian mine of Somondoco, later to be named Chivor after a nearby valley. Soon thereafter, the Spaniards were vigorously working the Chivor mine using local Indians as slave labor. Five years after the founding of Santi'sima Trinidad de 10s Muzos in 1559 (Wokittel, 19601, the Muzo and Caijma Indians' mine was located some 7 km to the west on the Itoco Hill. Actual mining of the Muzo area by the Spaniards began in 1567, and initial production is said to have overshadowed production at Chivor (Feininger, 1970). By the end of the 16th century, both Chivor and Muzo were being vigorously worked using Indian slave labor. In 1592, the first recorded grant of Chivor was given to Francisco Maldonado de Mendoza by Antonio Gonzalez, president of the New Kingdom of Granada. By this time, however, the treatment of the Indian slaves was so inhumane that on September 22, 1593, President Gonzalez issued a 39-article decree protecting the Indians (Johnson, 1961). This decree was soon followed in 1602 by several royal orders from Phillip 111 of Spain to enforce the law. By this time, however, the Indian population had already been decimated. As a consequence of this loss of cheap labor and the litigation that followed the royal orders, production of Colombian emeralds declined drastically. In 1650, the Muzo mines were declared royal property, and production further declined. By 1675, the Chivor mine had been abandoned; its location eventually became a mystery that endured for over 200 years. Muzo continued to be worked sporadically throughout the 17th, 18th) and 19th centuries (Barriga and Barriga, 1973) until the government declared it the National Emerald Domain in 1871 (Colombian American Business, 1979). When the mines at Muzo came under government control, production all but ceased and lawless disorder came to characterize the area...

The title of the paper is Emeralds of Columbia by Peter C. Keller.

I can't get the link to work for some reason, but if you want to read the entire article, which I would recommend, I'm sure you will be able to find it by entering Emeralds of Columbia - GIA by Peter Keller.

GIA, of course, is the Gemological Institute of America.

You will learn about the geology of Columbian emerals and also the history, which goes up to the present day.


And here is more history from an article about carved emeralds.

...It seems that Mexico or South America are the hot spots for the origins of carved emeralds. South Americans were carving emeralds no less than 1,000 years before the Spaniards stole them all away and carried them to Europe. The oldest known carved emerald, dated from 500 BCE to 200 BCE, is a small figurine attributed to the Olmec, an indigenous people group living in the tropical lowlands of Mexico between 1500 BCE and 400 BCE.
Scientists have tested the stone and found it consistent with emeralds found in Russia (an unlikely trade route) and Colombia. As the Olmecs were known to trade with several South American groups for gems, including blue jade from Guatemala, it is most likely that this emerald originates from Colombia. {Morgan, p. 78}
Nearby Colombia, in Peru, there are legends of the goddess Esmeralda, who was purported to live in a large emerald ostrich egg.  Rumor has it that Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro ransacked the beauty’s temple, taking from her priests all her “children,” which were really the innumerable emeralds her loyal followers had offered to her on festal days. Those that were not destroyed by ignorance (aka, by hammer and anvil testing) were loaded on ships. Hundreds of pounds of emeralds set sail for Spain in the 16th century {Corcoran, p. 877}.
Meanwhile on the North American continent, another conquistador, Hernan Cortes (Cortez), ransacked Mexico, taking home with him his own fair share of emeralds carved by the skilled hands of Mexican lapidaries. A handful of these precious gemstones would soon be his downfall.
The Queen of Spain desired a gift, a carved emerald in the shape of a large rose. History intimates that he knew of her desire, but instead gave the rose, as well as four other carved emeralds ((a horn, a fish with golden eyes, a bell with pearl clapper, and an elaborate cup) to his wife. Some accounts relate that they were presented in the form of a charm necklace, while others describe five distinct sculptures. Regardless, he lost the favor of the Queen upon his return to Spain, and the necklace was lost at sea eleven years later during a shipwreck off the Barbary coast...
And here is the link if you'd like to read more about carved emeralds.


I got out for a few minutes of surface hunting yesterday.  That was my first hunting in about a month.
I found a few interesting pieces and will post some photos sometime soon.

Among the items was a brick, which looked like it was cut from coral.  I'll have to research that.

While the surf hasn't been high for some time, I'm sure the recent tides and wind direction changes opened up a few holes that would produce modern items.  I wasn't out there to find them, but as my care-taking duties decrease, I do expect to get out more in the near future.

The surfing web sites are predicting a big surf out about ten days.  I'd bet that it doesn't happen, but will keep watching.

Happy hunting,