Emeralds - May's Birthstone
Article by: Joseph Denaburg
The Emerald, which gets its name from the word “smaragdus” (meaning green in Greek), has been mined since the Egyptians first recognized the stone’s beauty in 1300 BC. Their rich color is one of the main reasons that the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra prized her Emeralds more than any other gemstone. Emeralds are seen as a symbol of rebirth, and they are believed to grant the owner foresight, youth, and good fortune. It is also said that Emeralds have the power to increase the wearer’s speech and diplomacy and bring power to the wearer. These precious stones are also said to warn the wearer of incoming dangers when the color becomes slightly pale. Emeralds are the only stone other than Topaz to be listed in all of the ancient birthstone tables.
Other folklore states that Emeralds were once used as amulets to ward off Epilepsy in children, and they were long thought to cure diseases of the eye. They have also been said to improve memory, intelligence, and clairvoyance. Traditionally, this beautiful gemstone is gifted on a couple’s 55th wedding anniversary, but Emerald jewelry is also common as a gift for 20th and 35th anniversaries.
Emeralds are one of the more difficult stones to cut, due to their hard nature (they are harder than steel) and brittleness. Inexperienced gem cutters are known to leave these stones riddled with microscopic impurities, and it often takes an expert to ensure you are getting a fine quality stone.
A rectangular step-cut is the most common cut of the stone, as it suits the natural shape of the crystal. Instead of bringing out the sparkle of the stone, the “emerald cut” as it is commonly known enhances the depth of the crystal, bringing out the gem’s color.
Emeralds are now found in many countries across the world: Pakistan, Russia, Australia, India, Norway, South Africa, and the US, but the largest producers in the world are Brazil and Columbia. It is popular opinion that the most beautiful Emeralds in the world are those found in Columbia.
Emeralds are very delicate stones, and the wearer should be careful to avoid contact with salt water or extreme temperature changes. It is best to carefully clean these gemstones with a soft brush and warm water.