Cleopatra loved emeralds so much that she wiped out Egypt’s supply.
Mostly true. Good ol’ Cleo loved those green gems and ordered slaves to dig and keep digging until no more emeralds were discovered.
For generations people assumed that not only was Egypt’s supply of emeralds exhausted, there were no more emeralds in the world.
So imagine everyone’s excitement when, in the 16th Century, Spanish conquistadors learned that the indigenous people of South America had been mining and trading emeralds for centuries. By 1568, the Spanish were actively mining emeralds in Colombia.
For many years, Colombia supplied the bulk of the world’s emeralds. In the early 1800s, archeologists uncovered Cleopatra’s original emerald mine.
The good lady had, indeed, exhausted the local supply of emeralds – at least, the ones most easily mined.
Fortunately, the lively green gems have since been discovered in other places in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Canada and Russia.
My favorite stories about emeralds, however, occur much closer to home. In 1874, a North Carolina farmer who was plowing his field unearthed a green gem that sparkled in the sun.
And therein lies a tale that I will reveal in The Carolina Emerald.
In the meantime, click here to view a video of Cleopatra’s emerald mine.