[ El Dorado and Emerald ]

Personal adornment was an extremely important aspect of individual status for the ancient American people in the Pre-columbian civilizations who lived in the Andean countries of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Gold, the sacred metal, adorned political leaders and was used as offerings to the gods. By the first millennium B.C. gold ornaments such as crowns, pendants, ear ornaments, nose rings, necklaces and beads were produced which would continue to be in vogue for the next two thousand years. Many of these are presumed to have been magical or protective in either material or function. The monumental tombs of important persons were buried with offerings of gold so that the metal would ensure immortality. When Catholicism swept the continent following the Spanish conquest gold cross ornaments were fabricated using the Pre-columbian techniques. As soon as the Spanish conquerors arrived, they started to loot gold and the search for the El Dorado city began. Believed to be in the deep heart of the Amazon, it was never to be found. In 1969, a golden raft was discovered around the Guatavita lake, which proved the lake was the very site where the El Dorado ceremony took place. The site was near the largest emerald mine in the world. From Cleopatra to Elizabeth Taylor, people have been hypnotized by the beauty of Colombian emeralds.