The jewellery world is filled with tales of grand gestures inspired by exceptional gems. One of my favourites is that of Anita Delgado, a Spanish flamenco dancer who, in 1908, married the Maharajah of Kapurthala. Legend has it that one day Delgado spotted a remarkable crescent-shaped emerald jewel on the brow of an elephant in the Maharajah’s retinue. Instantly smitten, she asked her husband for the jewel. He agreed on the condition that she learned to speak Urdu. She did, and the elephant’s loss was Delgado’s gain.
With their striking green hue, emeralds are said to represent new beginnings. The ancient Greeks and Romans regarded the stone as a symbol of love and hope, while to the Egyptians it signified eternal youth. Rarer than diamonds, they tend to contain inclusions that are seen as desirable since they result in interesting patterns that give these lovely gems their personality.
Like Delgado, I’m wild about emeralds, and since they are May’s birthstone, this seems like the perfect time of year to highlight a selection of stunning emerald jewels, any of which I’d happily learn a new language for.
First up is Chopard’s glorious Magical Setting ring (price on request), whose innovative “secret setting” technique allows mouthwatering emeralds to cluster around the diamond centrepiece in what Chopard describes as a sort of light show. With its bubble-like silhouette, there’s something smile-inducing about this effervescent design.
Boucheron’s Pluie Art Deco necklace (price on request) from the Nature Triomphante high-jewellery collection features a dazzling 6.02ct Colombian pear-shaped emerald. But, with my penchant for a glamorous bit of hardware, the details that really delight me here are the barrel-shaped connector rings with their horizontal-set emeralds.
Also notable for its clever construction is Nina Runsdorf’s sinuous Pathways bracelet (price on request). Inspired by a Gustav Klimt painting, it features a patchwork of tessellated Colombian emeralds interspersed with 18ct gold settings. While for me the appeal of this piece is its architectural appearance, for Runsdorf it is the associations with nature that move her: “I particularly love the rich colour of the Colombian emerald – it really reminds me of springtime.” Brazilian jeweller Graziela expresses a similar sentiment when discussing her emerald and Paraíba tourmaline hoop earrings ($19,500). “The blues and greens bring me back to my roots, as nature surrounded me growing up. The combination creates a fresh look that is reminiscent of summer and lush green forests.”
For Nikos Koulis, the emerald – a stone he claims to collect “vigorously” – is combined with white diamonds and black enamel to create his art-deco-influenced style. “I love to play with different stone cuts to shape the geometry of a piece,” says Koulis of his witty creations, such as a pair of white-gold mismatched earrings (price on request).
Also working a black and green palette to contemporary effect is Ralph Masri’s Arabesque Deco ring (£2,489). “I personally think emerald green pops out best when set on a blackened gold backdrop, and as a whole the colour looks more uniform than if set on regular polished gold,” says Masri, before adding, “There’s something very soothing and almost spiritual about emeralds – they seem to have more life than other coloured gems.”
Maia Adams is a jewellery consultant and co-founder of Adorn Insight (adorninsight.com).