Happy Birthday Emerald!
Celebrations in May are enriched by this month's signature stone, the luxurious and elegant emerald. There is much more to this precious gem than its familiar color, however. How much do you really know about emeralds?
Emerald is the green variety of the mineral beryl and is the most valuable green gemstone. Emerald hues can range from a lighter yellow-green to deep, dark green with hints of blue. Yellow-green stones are considered less valuable, while the darkest greens with blue undertones are the rarest and most valuable. The stone's overall green coloration is caused by chromium and vanadium impurities that are incorporated into its hexagonal crystal structure.
That crystal structure gives emeralds good hardness, but because these stones are prone to inclusions, they are more brittle than many gems and can fracture more easily under pressure. Skillful cutting, however, can maximize this stone's beauty and durability without sacrificing its color.
The majority of the world's high quality emeralds are mined in Colombia, with another popular and productive mine in Zambia. These are widespread stones, however, and emerald mines are also found in Brazil, Afghanistan, Egypt, Australia, China, France, Austria, Italy, Norway, Madagascar, Canada and many other nations. In the United States, emeralds are found in Connecticut, Montana, Nevada and both North and South Carolina.
With their rich green color, emeralds have long been associated with the rebirth, fertility and renewal of the earth and nature. These stones were buried with Egyptian monarchs to offer protection and peace in the afterlife, and today they are believed to offer good fortune and mental acuity to the wearer. Other properties associated with emeralds include loyalty, relaxation and serenity, and they have been believed to have medical properties such as calming anxiety, relieving depression and alleviating different health concerns, including stomach problems and epilepsy. Emeralds are also believed to help align the chakras of the heart for both physical and emotional well-being.
In addition to its symbolism as May's birthstone, the emerald is also the symbolic stone of the astrological sign Cancer. This stone is also the anniversary gemstone for the twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries, no matter what month those anniversaries may be in.
Emerald Rings and Jewelry
Emeralds have featured in different types of jewelry for thousands of years, from the crown jewels of different dynasties around the world to religious adornments, weaponry accents and a wide variety of other pieces. Queen Cleopatra of Egypt was fond of emeralds, and the Muzo Indians of Colombia also revered these stones. Today, many celebrities favor emeralds for large statement pieces such as pendants or brooches.
To combat this stone's brittle nature, the emerald cut shape – a rectangle with cropped corners – was designed to minimize pressure placed on the stone during the cutting process while still maximizing the beauty and color of the cut gem. Modern cutting techniques have evolved to treat emeralds more delicately without losing precise cuts, and these stones can be found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, both as center or focal stones as well as accents.
Emeralds are not only popular in rings, but also in earrings, bracelets, necklaces and other pieces. They are often paired with diamonds to provide additional sparkle in a more detailed setting.
Other May Birthstones
While emerald is a stunning gem, it isn't necessarily right for everyone or every May celebration. Fortunately, agate is an alternative stone to commemorate events in May, or there are many associated astrological stones to choose from that relate to Taurus (April 20-May 21) and Gemini (May 21-June 21), the signs for birthdays in May. Taurus is associated with coral, garnet, turquoise and sapphire, while Gemini is symbolized with citrine and pearl.
No matter what you may be celebrating in May, whether it is a birthday, anniversary, graduation or other special event, see our complete collection of emerald rings and other emerald jewelry to find a perfect piece. If you can't find just what you like, try our collection of fine loose emeralds to select a stone for your one-of-a-kind jewelry creation!