Emerald mines can be found all over the world including the United States of America, Madagascar, Africa, India and Australia. The most beautiful emeralds are known to have come from Brazil and Columbia. I will be writing about the Columbian emerald mines. Their emeralds are known for their “transparency, crystallization and fire”. They range in color from “slightly light, yellowish green to a deep, bluish green”. Emeralds have a hardness of 7.5 to 8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
In 1537, a Spaniard, Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada, was the first to receive a gift of 9 emeralds from the Indians when he entered the valley of Guacheta in the Chibcha domain. He and his captains found the source of the emeralds in Somondocel or Chivor.
In 1555, Luiz Lanchera founded the village of Muzo near the Itoco mountains where large amounts of emeralds were found by Indians.
In 1558, the Spaniards began mining in the area, although they were often attacked by local Indians. The mine was ultimately abandoned and was overgrown by the jungle.
In 1594, the Spaniards found the Indians working an emerald site nearby, known as the Muzo mines today. They actively worked the mine for 15 years with tremendous results.
Between 1824 and 1848, the officials of Bogota stated that all mining had to be done under the direction of the nation.
In 1909, the Government ended their relationship with the English Company, The Colombian Emerald Mining Company, Ltd. which was “controlled by South African diamond interests” and the Government continued on their own to control the mines. Operations have been suspended since January 1, 1913.