Catherine the Great's Emerald: Power, Strength, and Beauty

May's birthstone, the emerald, has long been known for its representation of power and strength, but did you know that it was a favorite of Catherine the Great?  The longest female ruler of Russia, Catherine the Great was in power for 34 years, from 1762-1796.  Assuming the throne after her husband, Peter’s, coup-spurred removal (which was, in part, encouraged by Catherine herself!), Catherine the Great was unfortunately not entirely popular for very long.  Just a week after his removal from the throne, Peter was killed by who is believed to have been the brother of one of Catherine’s lovers.  This put her in an unfavorable light for the general public, but she still managed a long and successful imperial career!

Photo credit: Romanov Empire Historical Society

One of Catherine’s favorite ways to express her position of power was with her collection of emeralds, and she had A LOT of them.  Emerald earrings, brooches, and necklaces were standard for her to wear to strategy meetings with her military generals.  One of her more impressive gems, and one she may have worn to some of the more difficult meetings to show her incredible strength, was a stunning 107+ carat rectangular emerald.  This emerald, as well as her others, was worn as an intimidation strategy, daring generals to disagree or cross her while the emerald glittered back at them.

Catherine’s success and power did not come without consequence, however, and many of her enemies used the same tool that plagues women in power to this day: they used her sexuality against her.  Catherine was painted as a woman driven by her attraction and was regarded as a Jezebel of her time.  Rumors followed her during her entire reign, even going so far as to afflict her after death.  One notable rumor of her cause of death includes a story of beastiality with a horse.  However, historians believe this is untrue, another absurdity to follow her legacy, and they believe she may have actually died of a stroke.  These rumors did not dampen her confidence, however, and she adorned herself with emeralds, facing the rumors head on in the best way possible: rising above them and becoming even more powerful despite them.

Much of Catherine’s extensive emerald collection, including the dazzling 107 carat stone, was passed down through the royal family line after her death in 1796 and the impressive stone eventually made its way into the collection of the Grand Duchess Vladimir.  The Duchess adored her emeralds and, upon hearing the news of the revolution, had her jewels hidden away, and then smuggled safely to London.  She was eventually the last member of the Romanov imperial family to leave Russian soil, a decision that can only be described as a power move, perhaps one directly inspired by the late Catherine the Great’s strength.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Two years ago, in 2019, Catherine the Great’s original, 107ct diamond --now cut in a pear shape, weighing 75ct, and set in the pendant of a stunning diamond necklace-- was sold for over $4 million in Geneva.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

So, if your birthday is in May, count yourself lucky!  You get to claim Catherine the Great’s power jewel, the emerald, as your very own birthstone.  Use your power wisely!

If you’re interested in dazzling your subjects (or, maybe just your friends and family), Day’s has lots of gorgeous emerald pieces that are sure to give you an air of confidence and strength, just like Catherine the Great. 

Emerald RingEmerald NecklaceEmerald Earrings

 

Discovery the story of emeralds at the Day’s Jewelers Gemstone Education page.

Fondly,

Kyra Jo Zabel

Kyra Zabel

Creative Content and Copywriter