Emeralds from the Muzo mines in Columbia are prized as the most beautiful and valuable Emeralds in the world, because of their ‘hauntingly’ pure green colour.

Naturally emeralds vary in colour from very light to much darker, and can have a blue-green or yellow-green tint to them.

The most prized and valuable emeralds are those with the darkest colour, and the purest green.

The nation of Columbia prizes itself on its staggering Emeralds, boasting the top three most valuable emerald mines in the world: Muzo, Chivor and Coscuez. 

However, it is indisputably the Muzo mine which occupies the throne for the greenest emeralds, and are considered the most beautiful and most valuable over all others.

The mines lie high up in the Andes mountain ranges, 60 miles north-west of Bogotá, the high-altitude capital of Columbia.

The mines stretch from up in the clouds, at very cold, high-altitudes, down to humid, semi-tropical jungle, which is where the gems can be found. 

At Studio Invisible, we were honoured to have the opportunity to work on images of such rare, exclusive and beautiful stones.

Photographed by Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton-Jones, the mesmerising stones are scattered across the surface of the image, glittering and protruding in a separate dimension from their background.

The campaign captures the potential of the Muzo emeralds in their pure un-set state.

Rather than readymade pieces of jewellery, the stones are sold to be set by jewellers as the wearer desires, allowing infinite possibilities for what can be made from the stones: earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, tiaras, the list goes on.

Each emerald is unique, and is treated as such.

The local gem-cutters in Muzo’s Bogota workshops examine each emerald individually, plotting how best they can be cut and carved to achieve the most beautiful and purest jewel.

They map the facets and shape according to the original shape of the stone, taking into account colour and ‘inclusions’ or marks within the stone.

In fact, Muzo Emeralds are seen as so paramount of their kind, they are considered to be one of only four mythical gemstones. 

These mythical jewels are said to be the Rubies of Mogok, Burma, the Diamonds of Golconda, India, the Sapphires of Kashmir, and of course the Emeralds of Muzo.

Their creation, over 65 million years ago, is seen as almost a geological miracle, as it encompassed both fire and water. 

Volcanic forces combined beryllium with chromium and vanadium from ancient seabeds, crystallising and forming into what we recognise today as Emeralds.


The Muzo mines comprise of five separate underground galleries.

Four of these are vertical mines, the oldest and deepest of which descends to 500 feet underground.

The last is spiral bored to 1,300 feet below ground level, and is seen a pioneering example of new mining techniques and technologies.

The new technologies employed within the Muzo mines ensure tight health and safety, environmental and ethical credentials.

Amongst many other reasons, this ensures the traceability of the gems, which vastly increases their value - being able to be traced without doubt not only back to the Muzo mines, but also to a specific part of a specific compartment within the mine.