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The emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl, colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes iron. It is highly prized as a gemstone and ounce for ounce is the most valuable gemstone in the world, often made more so by inclusions.

In ancient times and throughout the early Middle Ages, the term emerald could mean any green gemstone. Pliny the Elder mentions 12 varieties of emerald; among them are:

  • malachite (the original "true" emerald)

aquamarine, another variety of beryl)

  • prase (a leak-
  • chrysoprase (a type of chalcedony, the color ranges from pale to apple green)

topaz, the term peridot dates from the time of the Crusades)

  • jasper (the term iaspis originally referred to several spotted green stones, which may have included serpentine and nephrite jade)

See also: