This month, emeralds are the birthstone of May. It symbolises rebirth, and is associated with connotations of spring, fertility, good fortune and youth. This can be due to their vivid colour, typically green, which can make a statement on any jewellery piece.
There's much mythology surrounding this dazzling gemstone – such a bold colour will definitely tell many tales!
Keep reading to find out more about May's emeralds.
Where do emeralds come from?
Emeralds were derived from the Greek word, 'smaragdus', which the International Coloured Gemstone Association (ICGA) explains was via the Old French word, 'esmerelde'. This literally translates as "green stone".
Like all gems, emeralds are first formed by small geological changes in the environment from millions of years ago. It is the presence of a substance called beryllium which helps to build an emerald, and classifies this stunning stone into the family of beryls. The ICGA explains that a pure beryl is completely void of pigment, but, with other elements in the mix, (such as chromium and vanadium in the case of the emerald), colour is created.
Emeralds can be quite valuable, as such turbulent beginnings to this gemstone means that it is rare to find one that is both a deep green hue and also flawless. However, the colour of an emerald is held in much higher respect the richer it is, so a forest-green stone with fissures or cracks, called jardin, will always be worth more than a lighter, clear emerald.
The mythology of emeralds
The emerald features in many cultures due to its amazing physical appearance. Ancient Hindus and Indians would use this gemstone to decorate their palaces and buildings, and thought this precious stone to have healing powers.
In ancient Rome, the colour green is associated with Venus, the goddess of love, fertility and beauty, hence the connotations around the emerald.
The International Gem Society (IGS) states that the emerald was also used as a talisman, with the hope to sharpen the mind, bring in fortune and foretell events of the future.
Moving on to the healing powers this gemstone is thought to possess, the IGS explains that emeralds were used by Spanish, Hindu and some Arabic physicians to counteract poisons and heal infections and other bodily ailments.
It can be assumed that all these properties that people attribute to this luminous stone is because it shares the same colour of nature, green, to mean life.
Emeralds are also the anniversary gemstone for marriage, commemorating the 20th and 35th years.
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Famous emeralds throughout time
According to the American Gem Society, the majority of the world's collection of emeralds come from the mines of Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan and Zambia, but it is thought that this stone was first mined in Egypt.
With such a rich history behind such a precious stone, it's no surprise that there are many famous emeralds throughout time.
One of the largest emeralds in the world is the Mogul Emerald. It's a rectangular-sized stone, around 10 centimetres tall and weighs 217.80 carats. The shape is one specifically designed for emeralds, to enhance their natural beauty to its full extent.
It is thought that this stone dates back as far as mid-1690s, of Colombian origin. On one flat side are inscriptions of Islamic prayers, and other other side has ornamental floral engravings. In 2001, it was sold for $2.2 million to an anonymous buyer.
Another famous Colombian emerald is a vase, called the Emerald Unguentarium. The IGS states that it is 2,860 carats, carved in 1641. This masterpiece is currently on display in Austria's Imperial Treasury.
Though emeralds can be valuable, and a 'true' emerald hard to obtain, there are many synthetic emeralds out there which boast the same radiant green hues, so it is important to buy from a trusted source to ensure that you get a quality gemstone.
If you are looking for an emerald jewellery piece, check out our online gallery here.
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