The Country of Emeralds

Day Four

Like every other day on this trip, we woke up to a gorgeous, sunny morning. With no time to waste, we woke up from our slumber and made our way to breakfast. Devouring the delicious Colombian delicacies, we finished and made our way straight to the city. Today is a day of museums and shopping.

Our first stop in our busy morning was to Cartagenas largest Emerald Museum. This museum was like any other I have been to (and I’ve been around). The museum started in, what I can only describe to be like, a workshop. A small room with a station at every wall and corner. Each station (eight in total) had a particular job in Emerald processing. One station was in charge of cleaning the emerald stone, another station was responsible for the molding of gold or silver jewelry pieces, another station was responsible for the engravement, the roles were endless. Before our very eyes, we witnessed, from start to finish, the process of creating the perfect piece of emerald jewelry. It was remarkable, to say the least.

As we moved throughout the Emerald museum, the wonderful tour guide taught us not only of the history of many pieces of jewelry but also to spot pure stones over tainted counterparts. There are three particular characteristics of Emerald to look out for when choosing the perfect stone. First, you have your color. The classic, rich, deep green Emerald is the purest. However, depending on preference, many people may opt for a pale, grassy green that typically denotes low-quality rock. Second, is the clarity. The highest quality of Emerald stone is those with little to no cuts or fractures, an otherwise totally flush rock. There are, however, instances in which Carbon seeps its way through the cracks of the Emerald rock, creating what looks like a green marble design. This does typically characterize lower quality rocks but is becoming more and more popular for their unique look. Lastly, you have shine. Emeralds with high gloss and sparkle are of much greater quality and purity than dull parallels. For a quick tip, the darker the green, the less fractured the stone, and the brighter the shine, the greater quality of Emerald.

After the Emerald museum tour was finished, we found our way to the real fun stuff. The actual jeweler. A room full of endless combinations of color, clarity, and shine, as well as your choice of gold, white gold, and silver accents. You also had your choice of cut. Round, oval, triangular, classic Emerald, heart, pear, cushioned. Anything you could think of, they had it. Lined with diamonds, crystal, Emeralds of varying colors (from exposure to gases) like pinks, purples, blues, the possibilities were truly endless. You even had the choice of an unprocessed, raw Emerald rock.

After spending most of our time at the Emerald museum, we made our way back to the Historic Town to visit El Museo Del Oro (The Museum of Gold). There was much to learn about the numerous artifacts available on display. From beautiful nose jewelry and earrings to fish hooks and statues. You could walk out of the museum believing that back in the day, the only material the Colombians had was gold. Incredibly unique as they were, no two pieces of jewelry or tools were the same as the molds were creating and destroyed for each individual piece.

The last stop on our morning journey through the Historic Town was a library. With my mothers’ conference coming to an end and three days of pure beach lounging ahead of us, she needed some literature. They had anything and everything, from your hot-off-the-press celebrity magazines to your educational college textbooks. One particular topic, very specific to Colombia’s history, I could not find. Many of the history books sold at the library had to do with the natives and their gold. It’s almost as if Colombian people were trying to erase one particular man from their memories. In this particular library, not a single book dedicated to the narcotraficantes, more specifically, Pablo Escobar. Although a little confused, due to the fact that Colombia has a very dark history with cocaine, I’m not entirely surprised. After the history and the bloodshed, Colombians everywhere are trying to forget about the horrendous acts of those times. So much so, they are willing to erase it from their history books.


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