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May is in full bloom! Springtime offers endless beauty and bounty, with flowers and lush greenery everywhere you look. What better gemstone to symbolize the splendor of spring than vibrant green emerald, the captivating May birthstone?
Emerald belongs to a group that industry insiders often refer to as the “Big Three.” These are the three most expensive and alluring precious colored gems that have been sought after for centuries: emerald, ruby, and sapphire. In fact, this captivating May birthstone has been worn in jewelry for more than found thousand years. Ancient civilizations from the Inca to the Egyptians revered emerald for its many powerful properties.
Pliny the Elder, a Roman philosopher who lived in the first century A.D., wrote that emerald was the only gem that delighted the eye without fatiguing it. Early gem cutters kept emeralds on their work bench to gaze upon from time to time to rest their tired eyes. Modern science confirms Pliny’s claim with findings that prove green is the most restful color for the human eye, as it relieves stress and strain. It’s no wonder emerald was a favorite of ancient leaders like Cleopatra, who famously wore them in many of her royal adornments.
Besides their obvious beauty, emeralds are treasured for their meaning. In ancient Roman mythology, the emerald was the gemstone of the goddess of love, Venus. Though rubies are generally considered the gemstone of romance and passion, emeralds were once held in the same regard. Emeralds are said to stir feelings of passion, euphoria, and intense love. They are thought to bring love that is deep and unconditional, making them the perfect romantic gift. The vibrant green hue of emeralds represents vitality, renewal, and starting anew. It’s only fitting that emeralds mark the dawn of springtime, a time of rebirth and regeneration.
The ideal shade for spring, emeralds range in color from yellowish to bluish and can vary from pale mint to deep forest hues. Vivid, deep green emeralds are most prized, while those with too much yellow or blue are less valuable. An ideal emerald will have color that is evenly distributed with just the right touch of transparency.
Most emeralds contain eye-visible clarity characteristics called “inclusions” that result from their formation deep withing the earth. These inclusions give each gemstone its own personality and character, an everlasting testament to the natural history of emeralds. When a single stone contains a wide variety of inclusions, gemologists call it the “jardín” effect, which is French for “garden,” because they resemble flowers and foliage.
Because of their inclusions, emeralds are delicate despite their relative hardness. If your emerald jewelry is in need of cleaning, don’t hesitate to bring it into your local jewelers. Ring re-sizing or re-tipping of prongs should only be performed by an accomplished jeweler.
Columbia has been the most fruitful source for fine emeralds for over 500 years, with the Muzo mine producing the most stunning jewelers in terms of both color and clarity. Brazil also produces stones from the abundant Belmont mine that are typically a little darker in color. Emeralds of very fine color can be found in parts of Africa, though they typically only occur in small carat sizes. Pakistan and Afghanistan are also important producers, though on a much smaller scale.
If you have emerald jewelry that you need to get appraised for insurance or estate purposes don’t hesitate to contact the San Diego Gemological Laboratory! Our independent appraiser, Elliot Grunwald, is a Graduate Gemologist from GIA and has many years of experience in the jewelry industry. You can read more about appraisal types and rates here.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to purchase emerald jewelry for a May birthday, anniversary, or even graduation gift, visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers. They carry a wide variety of luscious green emeralds to fit every style and budget.