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The Vedas or Holy Scriptures of the Indians says that emeralds have healing powers and that they promise good luck. The Mogul Emerald, dating from 1695, is among the worlds largest and weighs 217.80 carats. A large Colombian emerald can be seen at the New York Museum of Natural History and weighs 632 carats.
Colombia has 150 known emerald deposits and remains one of the top countries where rare emeralds can be found. Incas actually mined emeralds during the pre-Columbian times. Occasionally, the rarest emerald called Trapiche can be found. Other countries where fine emeralds are found include Madagascar, Pakistan, Brazil , Afghanistan and Russia. Brazil has rapidly gained ground in emerald mining and supplies very rare six-spoked emeralds and cat eye emeralds. In Transvaal, South Africa emerald deposits can also be found. However, only small percentages that are found have good quality. Small emeralds with good quality however, can be found in Zimbabwe.
Emeralds have a good hardness, 7.5 to 8, which helps to protect them from scratches. This makes setting and cutting them more difficult even for experienced gem cutters. They are often crystallized in six-sided hexagon shapes.
The birthstone of May, the emerald was regarded as a holy gemstone by the Aztecs and Incas. It was also regarded as the gemstone to commemorate 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. Egyptian pharaohs mined emeralds between 3000 and 1500 B.C. In the 19th century the mines, commonly known as "Cleopatra's Mines," were rediscovered and the emerald gemstones had been exhausted.