Inhabited until the year 1700 by the indigenous people of the Chíos, the region of Gachalá, which in Muisca language has several meanings such as “Clay Jar of the Night”, “Defeat of the Night” or “Place of the Gachas”, belongs to the Department of Cundinamarca, that is to say, that it is perhaps the only one of the emerald lands of great relevance, which is not found in Boyacá.
Unlike Muzo, Coscuez and Chivor, the Gachalá region was not considered as fertile land and optimal for agriculture, which meant that this territory did not have to be the scene of bloody battles, which were common among population and settlers of that time. The apathy for these lands caused important neglect regarding their mining potential and therefore, the extraction of emeralds was inactive, even after the Spanish colonisation.
It was only a century after the abandonment of its inhabitants, the Chíos, that Father Mariano de Mendoza y Bueno asked the Viceroy Antonio José Amar y Borbón to donate these lands for the purpose of founding a population.
Upon discovering an opportunity for emerald mining, the region of just under 6,000 inhabitants turned into green territory, leading to significant vein findings that have given much to talk about internationally. So much so that in 1967, “La Emilia” was found, one of the largest, most famous and most valuable emeralds in the world. “La Emilia”, named after the “guaquera” or miner woman who found it at the “Vega de San Juan” mine in Gachalá, weighs just over 3 pounds, is 7,025 carats, and was sold for more than $ 28.5 million.
“The Emilia” was purchased by Harry Winston, the New York-based diamond jeweller and merchant, who later donated it, for today, to be part of the permanent National Gem Collection at the “Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology “, Gems and Minerals from the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. One of the most representative stones in the green history of Colombia.
Gachalá emeralds are generally cleaner, with fewer flaws and inclusions than emeralds from other mines in Colombia, such as Muzo, Coscuez, and Chivor.
If you have an emerald from Gachalá, you can be sure to have in your jewellery box a fascinating gem of great commercial value!