Emerald jewellery has been beloved by many for centuries for the gemstone’s captivating sparkle and magnificent green colour. Join us as we learn more about the top 10 most famous and most expensive emeralds in the world, from royal wedding gifts to cursed stolen goods!
Most Expensive Emeralds
10 . The Stotesbury Emerald
This emerald had a rich historical journey. The 43.4 carat emerald was originally part of a Cartier necklace for eccentric mining heiress Evalyn Walsh Mclean, designed to incorporate her Star of the East diamond. Cartier then received the emerald back in a complex exchange for the infamous Hope Diamond. The stones namesake, social elite Eva Stotesbury, then purchased the stone from Cartier before selling to iconic jewellery house Harry Winston. What a journey! But it’s not over yet!
Winston reset the emerald into a ring and sold it to jewellery collector and heiress May Bonfils Stanton. The ring was eventually sold at auction in 2017 for $1 million following her death. The rich history of ownership through haute jewellery houses to the wealthy elite lends itself to the legendary gem as one of the most famous emerald rings in the world.
9. The Taj Mahal Emerald
Next up on our list is the Taj Mahal Emerald. The famous emerald is intricately carved with depictions of poppy flowers, lotus and other foliage, echoing the decoration of the Taj Mahal. The emerald was commissioned by the Mughal Court and exhibited as part of Cartier’s Collier Bérénice, a spectacular shoulder ornament that also boasted pearls, diamonds, and black enamel. The detailed emerald was sold for $1.8 million.
8. Angelia Jolie Emerald Earrings
The actress adorned teardrop emerald earrings on the red carpet of the Oscars in 2009, reportedly costing $2.5 million. Paired with a simple yet sleek black gown, the Colombian drop emeralds stunned the crowds. The large earrings weigh a total of 115 carats, and are crafted by American jewellery designer Lorraine Scwartz, jewellery to celebs including Kim Kardashian, Blake Lively and Beyoncé. We love these stunning Columbian drop earrings for a similar red-carpet look, especially as such large natural Colombian emeralds, with minor clarity enhancement, are becoming increasingly difficult to locate.
7. Colombian Emerald and Diamond Fringe Necklace
In 2015 this early 19th century emerald and diamond fringe necklace was sold for $2.9 million. The necklace is made up of a series of 9 graduating emerald and diamond square clusters with a feature central cluster displaying a large cushion cut emerald that suspends from a diamond scroll mount. Circa 1810, the necklace is thought to have had a series of prestigious owners. Princess Hlne, descendant of Louis Philippe 1st, King of France was gifted this necklace on her wedding day, from the personal collection of her godfather Henri d’Orlans, Duke of Aumale.
6. Catherine the Great’s Emerald Necklace
Catherine the Great was renowned for wearing jewellery as a way to express her position of power, often wearing emeralds to meeting with her military generals. This necklace set with an impressive 75.61 carat emerald was part of the imperial Russian collection for over a century before being gifted to Grand Duchess Vladimir by Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1874, in honour of her wedding to his son. Following her death, the necklace was owned by several collectors, including Pierre Cartier. The necklace was sold at auction for $4.5 million.
5. Zilkha Cartier Emerald Ring
At number 6 in our list, from the personal collection of Cecile Zilkha, this Cartier emerald and diamond ring that fetched $3.6million in 2020. Cecile and her husband Erza are well known New York philanthropists, who committed their lives to championing institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera and the Hospital for Special Surgery. Over their lifetimes they became true connoisseurs of exquisite interiors and taste. Following their deaths, Sotheby hosted ‘True Connoisseurship: The Collection of Ezra & Cecile Zilkha’, an auction their personal collection, where this ring sold for more than three times it’s estimate. The ring features a 21.86-carat Colombian square-emerald-cut emerald flanked by diamonds and mounted on 18k yellow gold.
4. The Rockefeller Emerald
The Rockefeller Emerald is often thought as the world’s most expensive emerald, yet in number 4 in our list. The gem is actually the most expensive per-carat emerald in the world. The Rockefeller emerald is the considered the largest emerald of its clarity in the world, with an astonishing price point of $5.5 million US dollars. The Columbian emerald’s price point is due to the stone’s clarity being like no other, with hardly any inclusions and a rich green, slightly blue colour. The emerald was originally purchased by John D. Rockefeller Jr. for his wife, Abby Aldridge Rockefeller, who wore it set into a brooch that was designed by Van Cleef & Arpels. After her death, the brooch was dissembled and shared amongst her children. Her youngest son turned a large stone into the ring we know today.
3. Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari Emeralds
The most well-known emeralds were owned by famous actress Elizabeth Taylor. Over the years, the Hollywood actress’ emerald suite was gradually added to by co-star and lover Richard Burton and contained a flower brooch, a pair of pendant earrings, a necklace, a ring and a bracelet. The actress’s jewellery collection is estimated to be worth a staggering $100 million USD, with her emerald pieces making up a quarter of that. The star of the show is considered to be her Bvlgari rectangular-cut emerald brooch, which is surrounded with pear-shaped diamonds. Richard Burton gifted Elizabeth Taylor during the film of Cleopatra during the early days of their romance. The 23.46 carat brooch was later worn by the actress at their wedding in 1964 before being sold in 2011 for over $6.5 million.
2. Queen Elizabeth II’s Vladimir Tiara
The Vladimir Tiara originally belonged to the Grand Duchess Vladimir, who lived between 1854 and 1920. The wife of the Tsar’s uncle, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia, she was well known for her impressive collection of jewels including the beautiful tiara. Following her death, Queen Mary purchased the tiara.
The story goes that the tiara, which was damaged in transit, was elected by Queen Mary to be repaired by infamous jewellers Garrad & Co. During this repair, Queen Mary added 15 of her own emerald to the tiara, in a new mechanism that made it possible to switch between the original pearls to emeralds easily. The tiara was passed down to Queen Elizabeth II who wore it frequently throughout her reign and was thought to be one of her favourite headpieces. The tiara is estimated to be worth over $30 million.
1.The Bahia Emerald
The Bahia Emerald is the one the world’s largest emeralds, weighing 752 pounds, so about the same weight as a horse! It is technically eight crystals embedded within one host rock. The rock contains the largest single shard of emerald to ever be found and is valued at approximately $400 million, although the true worth is unknown. The emerald, originating from the beryl mines of Bahia, Brazil was mined in 2001 and is the feature of an ownership dispute that continued till 2015. Some say the stone is cursed due to the trouble it has brought as a stolen good. Over a course of 10 years from its discovery to its settlement, 14 individuals and entities, not to mention the nation of Brazil, have claimed the rock is theirs. 4 lawsuits were filed, 3 people filed for bankruptcy. Even now the ownership has been settled, the stone remains in a controlled vault, where even the owners are not permitted to see it.
Is There a Colour Emerald That Is More Expensive?
Emeralds are known for their rich green colour derived from impurities of chromium, vanadium, or a combination of both. Modern research shows the purity and saturation of the green colour of a beryl is what defines an emerald. Iron can also affect the colour, increasing bluish tones.
The most desirable hue for an emerald is the slightly bluish, medium toned green that is not too light nor too dark with vivid saturation. The most valuable emeralds have high clarity with very little inclusions. Emerald colours are sometimes related to their mine location. For example, Zambian emeralds are said to be bluer in colour then a Columbian emerald, which are often an intense green.
Is There a Particular Cut That Makes an Emerald More Expensive?
In general, there is not a specific cut that is more expensive than another in terms of emerald. Historically the cut for emerald is the namesake emerald cut, with the Asscher cut being of similar technique. A lot of the most expensive emeralds are square or rectangular cut, as the shape lends itself to the gemstone’s properties, hiding any natural inclusions. Emeralds are formed in long crystals, like the ones in the Bahia Emerald, which makes longer rectangular cut’s a great choice to ensure maximum yield and let enough light into the gemstone. From here it can be further cut into a similar shape or cut.
Where Are the Most Expensive Emeralds Found?
The most expensive emeralds tend to be sourced from the Muzo mines in Colombia. The Muzo mines have been sought after since the 15th Century, and lie high within a semi tropical valley, in the high Andes mountains. The mines are renowned for their dedication to emerald quality and environmental support. In order to not compromise the quality of the gemstone, aggressive mining is banned and the workforce of 700 members of staff work hard to protect the environment through reforestation, hydroseeding and erosion control programs.
Tiffany & Co recently acquired a rare Muzo emerald, know dubbed the ‘Tiffany Muzo Emerald’. Tiffany & Co stated that the gemstone represents their ‘relentless pursuit of the most exceptional gemstones that nature has to offer’ (2023). Weighing 10 carats, the square cut emerald has exceptionally high clarity and is virtually inclusion free. Due to this the emerald has a superior degree of transparency and exceptional colouring.
We hope this look at the most expensive emeralds in the world have sparked your interest in this beautiful gem. Explore our range of stunning and exceptional emerald jewellery now at AC Silver.