Q. What is the birthstone for May? A. Emerald


Emerald is a gemstone with a distinctly green color. It belongs to the beryl mineral family.

Where this gemstone mined

The biggest emerald deposits today are found in Columbia, with Zambia following closely at the second position. Brazil is also a leading producer of this gemstone. Muzo, Chivor and Coscuez are Columbia’s three main mining areas. Much smaller quantities of emerald are also found in different countries all over the world such as the USA, India, Pakistan, Austria, Egypt, Australia, Norway and Zimbabwe, to name just a few.

A brief history of the gem

Emeralds are ancient gemstones that have been mined in Egypt (since 1500 BCE) as well as in Austria and India (roughly since 14th century CE). This gemstone has been mentioned in the Papyrus Prisse – the world’s oldest book, where a line says finding good words is more difficult than finding the emerald.  

Emerald owes its name to smaragdus (in Latin), which means “green gem”. From smaragdus, it became esmaurde, then esmralde, and  esmeralde in the 16th century. Eventially being known as Emerald.

Emerald found a passionate supporter in Cleopatra, who was known to have used this gem in her royal ornaments. Some ancient records have reported the use of flat emerald crystals by Nero. He used to enjoy the gladiator games by watching them through this gemstone.

It was the roman scholar Pliny the Elder who first suggested emerald’s belonging to the beryl family. However, it wasn’t until the early 19th century when Pliny’s suggestion was proved right by science. While referring to emerald, Pliny told that though humans enjoyed watching the plants and leaves, the intensely green color of emerald made it all the more enjoyable to gaze at it. He even mentioned how eyes strained at looking at other objects could gaze at emerald to restore the vision to normal.

Apart from the royalty in Egypt and Rome, even the Incas and Aztecs held emeralds in high esteem and used it in their religious ceremonies and jewelry. This green gemstone was then embraced by many other cultures.  

In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors plundered a significant quantity of emerald from South American mines, which was then traded for precious metals (like silver and gold). It was their trade which made the Asian and European royalty apprehend the true worth of emerald.

The chemical composition

Emerald belongs to the beryl mineral family. The chemical composition of beryl is Be3Al2(SiO3)6. Apart from beryl, trace amounts of vanadium and chromium are also found in emerald.  

Uses in jewelry

Emerald’s green color has enchanted humans from the ancient ages. From a rich grass green, or deep transparent grass green with a mesmerizing sheen, to limpid or velvety grass green, this gemstone is used in various colors, cuts and tones to craft beautiful jewelry. A square cut (also called the emerald cut) is the most common as it emphasizes the gemstone’s richness of color by leading your eye into it instead of redirecting your attention away from it.

In emerald jewelry, you will also find round and oval cuts, though they are quite rare and more expensive since a lot of rough is wasted in such cut. Cabochons (think of a brooch with a round, convex shaped gem) and pear cuts are also popular choices in emerald jewelry. However, the chance of finding brilliants, princess, trilliants, and other fancy cuts in emerald is less likely.  

Perhaps you are now wondering which emerald jewelry would be a good buy. For women, studs, earrings, rings, beads and necklace, bracelets and pendants or even some fancy safety pins and brooches would be good investments to own a piece of this mesmerizing green gem. Men don’t need to feel sad for they too will get their fair share of emerald jewelry in terms of tie-pins, brooches, cufflinks and turban charms.

Some interesting facts about the gemstone

Owning an emerald jewelry surely calls for celebration but knowing some interesting facts about the gem would make you see your precious asset in a new light. Here are some such facts:

·        Emerald sits pretty on the list of the four globally recognized precious gemstones together with diamond, sapphire, and ruby.

·        Due to its lower density, a 1-carat emerald has a larger appearance than a 1-carat diamond.

You can take a look at more of our Emerald commissions by clicking here.

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