Emeralds were known and esteemed in most remote times of the world's history. Emeralds have been found in ancient Egyptian and Etruscan tombs. Emeralds were frequently used in the decorations of sacred images.
The History of Emeralds - The Romans
The Romans believed that nothing evil could remain in the presence of this gem which discovered falsehood and treachery by changing colour and turning pale, and when powerless to avert misfortune would fall from its setting, giving rise to the belief that the falling of an emerald is a bad omen. Emeralds were considered very beneficial to the eyes, on which account it was worn as a seal ring and in connection with this Pliny states the following:
"If the sight hath been dimmed and wearied by intense poring upon anything, the beholding of this stone doth refresh and restore it again."
It is also recorded that the Emperor Nero, who was very short-sighted, used an emerald eye-glass to watch the gladiatorial contests.
The History of Emeralds - The Incas
The Incas possessed some wonderful Emeralds. One of their emeralds was described as being as large as the egg of an ostrich and was believed to be inhabited by Esmeralda, the chief goddess of Peru. When sacking the temples of Esmeralda the Spaniards discovered immense quantities of Emeralds, it being customary for her priests to obtain them by representing to the worshippers that these gems were esteemed by the goddess above all else, Emeralds being her own daughters.
The History of Emeralds - Spanish explorers
The explorer Pizarro, in his conquest of Mexico, found numerous Emeralds of surpassing beauty; but d’Acosta, a contemporary writer, states that many of the finest stones were ruined by the Spanish soldiers, who, being informed by a priest that to test their genuineness they should be placed upon an anvil and struck with a hammer, followed these instructions with most disastrous results.