Emeralds mines in Colombia


Muzo’s exploitation areas are located between the towns of Quipama and Muzo near 900 and 1,000 meters above sea level. These have been exploited since before the discovery of America by the Muzos. It is estimated that the deposits of the deposits of Muzo and Quipama have a formation period of 3 million years.

The exploitation of emeralds has been made for several years in tunnels, in which the best quality emeralds in the world, which were formerly called “drop of oil” , the which are characterized by their intense green colour and their great purity, with the presence of some calcite precipitates that provide the characteristic  appearance of this type of emerald, among others inclusions that are characteristic and distinctive of the Muzo mines, such as the crystals of parasite, which have a dark honey colour


Located a few kilometres north of Muzo, near the towns of Otanche, Santa Barbara and Saint Paul of Borbur. According to the Mina de Piedras website, these are characterized by “a geology of black carbonaceous sedimentary rocks crossed by veins of carbonates where emeralds are housed” and “a green colour with a certain tendency to green yellowish”, with good brilliance and inclusions like those of Muzo.

The lands where the Coscuez mine is located, do not have the mythological uniqueness of other lands such as Muzo, but thanks to its proximity, to the northeast you can see the hill “Fura”, which according to Muisca mythology, was in principle the first woman in the earth created by God “Aré”, and just in front, you can see the hill “Tena”, the first man. Fura, in violating the divine mandate of fidelity, and Tena after killing himself, were converted into these hills.


The emerald district of Chivor is “located to the southeast of the department of Boyacá, in the Tenza Valley region(…). It limits to the south with the municipality of Ubalá (Cundinamarca), to the north with the municipality of Macanal, to the east with the municipality of Santa María, to the west with the Municipality of Almeida and Guayatá, is located on the eastern mountain range 35 km to the northeast of Gachala. The mines that were most recognized are those of Gualí, Chivor, Buenavista and Mundo New. “The Chivor mines are believed to have been discovered in 1537 in one of the explorations sent by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada” to Somondoco (today Chivor).


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.

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