The name emerald comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' via the Old French 'esmeralde', and means 'green gemstone'.
"Nothing greens greener." Roman historian Pliny the Elder was explaining the desire for the supreme green gem not only in Rome but throughout the ancient world.
To the ancient Romans, emeralds were dedicated to the goddess Venus because it symbolized the reproductive forces of nature and was considered an aid to fertility.
Emeralds were worn by royalty in Babylon and Egypt. Tools dating back to 1300 B.C., during the reign of Rameses II, have been found in emerald mines in Egypt, later referred to as 'Cleopatra's Mines' since Cleopatra prized emeralds above all other gems. Mummies in ancient Egypt were often buried with an emerald on their necks carved with the symbol for flourishing greenness, to symbolize eternal youth.
Islamic texts describe the Garden of Paradise as carpeted with emerald. The Moguls of India loved emeralds so much they inscribed them with sacred text and wore them as talismans.
The Incas had an emerald goddess, a fabulous emerald the size of an ostrich egg, and the Crown of Andes, said to be worn by the last Inca king of Peru, was said to be set with 453 emeralds. Large quantities of emeralds were taken from Peruvian Incas during the invasion by the Spaniard conquistadors but the source of the emeralds were never discovered.
In the Middle Ages, emeralds were believed to hold the power to foretell the future.