Welcome Spring With the Emerald, May’s Birthstone
It’s appropriate that May’s birthstone reflects the brilliant green leaves and blooms of spring. A sign of rebirth and truth, emeralds are one of the “big 3” color stones—along with sapphires and rubies. And top-quality stones can be more expensive than diamonds!
Fast facts about emeralds
- They’re formed from beryl and their green shade comes from chromium and vanadium. Aquamarines are also from beryl, but they’re colored by iron.
- Light-colored emeralds are called “green beryls,” which are less expensive.
- Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring was a $1 million 2-carat diamond and two-carat emerald baguette ring.
- Spoiler alert—in the original Wizard of Oz book, the Emerald City wasn’t really green. Residents had to wear special green glasses “to protect their eyes from the brilliant color.” It was really so they’d think the city was made of emeralds.
- The earliest emeralds were found in Egypt, dating from at least 330 BCE. They were Cleopatra’s favorite gem.
- It’s also the gemstone for 25th and 35th anniversaries.
Emerald meanings, powers, and beliefs
- They’re traditionally believed to bring spiritual awareness, protection, love, and wisdom.
- Romans believed emeralds had the power to make wearers more intelligent and could cure diseases like cholera and malaria.
- According to the GIA, emeralds were thought to have magical powers. By placing it under the tongue, you could see into the future.
How to buy emeralds
- The most desirable emerald colors are bluish-green to green, with vivid saturation and medium to medium-dark tone.
- Almost all emeralds have inclusions; if you find a stone without any, it could be a synthetic. Be sure to ask your jeweler.
- Emerald cut: Its rectangular or square cut emphasizes the richness of a stone’s color by “leading the eye into it.” According to the International Colored Gemstone Association, its beveled corners bring out the beauty of the gem and also protect it from possible fractures.
Taking care of your jewelry
With their Mohs hardness rank of 7.5 – 8, emeralds are softer than diamonds. They’re susceptible to chipping and fractures, so they may be treated. According to the GIA, they include:
- Dyeing: Paler emeralds with multiple fractures may be dyed green to enhance their color.
- Filling fractures: Oils, waxes, and artificial resins are used to fill fractures in emeralds. The amount of filler can range from minor to significant; different substances have varying degrees of stability.
- Because of these treatments, you should never use an ultrasound cleaner. It’s better to use warm, soapy water and a soft brush to rinse away dirt; then dry them with a soft cloth.
- You should also avoid exposing the stones to heat—even hot water used for washing dishes could harm them—and harsh chemicals.