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Summer Travels: Gems of South America

By Staff | Jun 19, 2009

Through the summer months, many of us travel away from Southwest Florida in search of cooler climates, summer getaways, and relaxation. With this column, you’ll be able to stay right at home as Lily & Co., uses the summer months to travel around the world in search of precious gems.

The next continent in our journey includes the emerald green jungles of Brazil and the lapis blue mountains of Chile — welcome to South America. South America’s precious gems include the world’s finest emeralds from Columbia and aquamarine, tourmaline, topaz, amethyst, citrine, alexandrite, emerald, and countless other gems hail from Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru and other countries.

When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the new world, they were shocked to see emeralds larger and more beautiful than they had imagined possible. These green gems were much more valuable than the gold the Spaniards seeked. Emeralds soon found favor in the old world, from the Moguls of India, who carved them with intricate designs, to the crown jewels of royalty all over Europe and Asia.

Colombia’s emeralds are still the most prized today. The ancient mines of Muzo, Chivor and Cosquez are still the most important in the world, producing the majority of the world’s fine emeralds.

Brazil, too, produces emeralds along with an amazing variety of other gems in every conceivable color. Notable among them are some gems of exceptional quality. Brazil produces Imperial topaz in rich pinks and oranges, large and lovely aquamarine and amethyst, and exceptional tourmaline in reds, pinks and an electric blue-green called Paraiba tourmaline that commands tens of thousands of dollars per carat.

In Chile, the Incas, Molles, Diaguitas and other pre-Columbian cultures have used lapis lazuli to ornament masks and other artifacts for the last 2,000 years. The stone comes from a remote deposit located at 3,600 meters above-sea-level in the Andes Mountains in the area of Ovalle, Chile.

Lily & Co. is a full-service jeweler, offering jewelry repair and restoration, expert Rolex watch and clock repair, glass and metal hand-engraving services, bead and pearl re-stringing, pewter and holloware repair and restoration, and appraisal services.

The gallery features couture jewelry collections and a wide variety of art from local artists Myra Roberts, Rob Pailes, Eleanor Ward, and new artist Lucas Century.

Store hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Lily & Co., call (239) 472-2888 or visit www.lilyjewelers.com.