A deep green member of the beryl family, the emerald is the rarest of the so-called precious gems. It has been mined since Antiquity in both the Old and New Worlds. Queen Cleopatra of Egypt had mines near Zabara on the Red Sea Coast, and wore emeralds herself or gave them as gifts to friends. In ancient America, emeralds were treasured by native cultures, particularly the Inca, who worshiped them as sacred. As a talisman, emerald is said to cure diseases of the eye, to free the body from poisons, and to arrest physical decay. It enhances dreams and meditation, and increases spiritual awareness. Its green beauty makes it as prized today as it has always been through history.