When it comes to the world’s most popular and renowned jewelry, many people may think of diamonds, including famous examples such as the Hope Diamond or the Star of Africa.
But royalty and celebrities across the world, and across time, have come to cherish a wide variety of jewels, and one of the most popular among them is the emerald. Loose emeralds by themselves are a beautiful sight, but when cut and set, they create even more timeless works of art. If you look throughout the world in museums and private collections, you will find some of the most awe-inspiring natural emerald pieces that will allow you to truly appreciate the beauty of this unique gem.
To showcase some of the world’s most famous natural emeralds, we have collected this list of 7 prominent examples.
1. Queen Elizabeth II’s Vladimir Tiara
One of history’s most fond admirers of emeralds was Queen Elizabeth II, and it is clear why when you see her astounding tiara. The Vladimir Tiara as it is formally known was owned by Queen Elizabeth II. However, it did not start in her possession or even feature emeralds. Originally, the tiara was commissioned by the Grand Duchess Vladimir from the Romanov’s court jeweler Bolin. However, during the Russian Revolution that would soon follow, it had to be hidden away in the Russian royal palace.
A British antiques dealer named Albert Stopford was eventually able to retrieve the Vladimir tiara among many other pieces from the Palace. The Duchess would then pass in 1920, at which time Queen Mary, the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, would purchase the tiara, and later add the emeralds which it is famously known for today.
The tiara would eventually pass to Queen Elizabeth II, and it was often considered to be her favorite among her wide collection.
2. The Mogul Mughal Emerald
While the Vladimir Tiara featured real emerald set into fine jewelry, our next famous emerald is a magnificent standalone gem.
The Mogul Mughal Emerald is its own work of art. Besides featuring the deep green color that emeralds are known for, this significant 217.80-carat emerald features inscriptions carved into the surface. These inscriptions are of a Shi’a Muslim Prayer, and other inscriptions reference a date of 1107 A.H. (which would be 1695 A.D.).
While the Mogul Mughal Emerald was originally owned by a member of the Mughal Empire of India, it has taken a long journey since then, with its last sale taking place in 2001 to an anonymous buyer. Years later, it would be donated to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.
3. Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme Marie Therese of France
Another tiara makes its way onto this list, and it is just as stunning as Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite.
The Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme was gifted to Marie Therese by her husband Louis Antoine. The famous jewelers Evrard and Frederic Baptist were commissioned for this piece, and their final product resulted in a tiara that features 40 emeralds and over 1000 diamonds.
While the diamonds may come in higher quantities on this piece, the emeralds are what steal the show, with a large natural emerald stone located in the center of the tiara commanding the most attention. French royalty-maintained possession of this piece for a while, however it can now be found in the Louvre where you can go and view it for yourself.
4. The Stotesbury Emerald
While not featuring any royal connections, this emerald is still notable for its collectors. The Stotesbury Emerald would find its way through 3 different collections:
- Evelyn Walsh McClean’s
- May Bofils Stanton’s
- Eva Stotesbury’s
The emerald would be matched to the tastes of the current owner and would be set in many different pieces during its lifetime while being handled by legendary design houses Cartier and Harry Winston. The current version of the ring is in a setting by Harry Winston.
As the name suggests, the emerald would end its run with Eva Stotesbury before eventually being sold in 2017 for $1 million during Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Auction.
5. Grand Duchess Vladimir’s Ear Clips
The Grand Duchess Vladimir makes another appearance on this list and could reasonably make many more, as she was a prominent jewelry collector.
Her platinum, emerald, and diamond ear clips would be part of her collection that was hidden in the royal palace and then later smuggled out, along with the famous tiara.
These natural emerald earrings would not join Queen Elizabeth II’s collection, however, and it would instead be held by the German Thurn Und Taxis collection for some time, before finally ending up at auction at Sotheby’s in 2014.
6. Elizabeth Taylor’s Brooch
This emerald jewelry holds the title of the most expensive emerald jewelry ever sold at auction. While other pieces might be valued more, they typically end up in royal collections or museums and don’t have the opportunity to change hands through auction.
Elizabeth Taylor would have her famous brooch given to her as a gift by Richard Burton. This extravagant jewelry was gifted even before they were married, and she only became more famous when she wore it on their wedding day.
In 2011, it would finally end up at auction at Christie’s where it would sell for an incredible $6.6 million.
7. The Chalk Emerald
This emerald gem is known less for its historical owners, and more for its beautiful appearance. Weighing in at 37.82 carats after being altered by Harry Winston for its current setting, the Chalk Emerald boasts incredible color and clarity.
It was donated to the Smithsonian by Mr. and Mrs. O. Roy Chalk, where it is now on display.
Learn more about these incredible gems
Emeralds are a gem unlike any other in the world. If you want to learn more about these incredible stones, consider checking out our site where we cover more emerald stories and information, including topics like how to tell if an emerald is real and determining emerald value and quality.