Emerald: The May Birthstone

May Birthstone: Emerald

Color: This green stone is a member of the beryl family of gemstones. The mineral chromium is what gives the emerald its color, the higher the chromium the more intense the color. These gemstones range from a light to dark green, often with a slightly bluish tint. The most expensive stones are bluish green.

Origins: The name emerald comes from the Old French word esmeralde, which means green gemstone. Columbia is the world’s largest producer of emeralds, and Zambia is the world’s second-largest producer. Emeralds are found in Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Madagascar, Namibia, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and the United States.

History: Emeralds have been mined in Egypt since 1500 BC and India and Austria since at least the 14th century. The four most notable emeralds were mined in Colombia and are the Chalk Emerald ring (37 carats), Duke of Devonshire Emerald (1,383.9 carats uncut), Gachala Emerald crystal (858 carats) and Mogul Mughal Emerald (217.8 carats).

Fun Facts:
• In April 2017 the Marcial de Gomar Collection will be auctioned at Guernsey’s in New York City. The collection includes emeralds from the famous Spanish shipwreck Nuestra Señora de Atocha which sank in 1622. The collection for sale include the famous “La Gloria” an 887-carat Muzo mine emerald La Gloria is larger than the Colombian emerald from Gachalá in the Smithsonian, which is 857 carat! La Gloria is most impressive as a rough stone of unbelievable weight; should it ever be cut and polished it is estimated it might yield a gem of about 300 to 400 carats.
• In 2011 actress Elizabeth Taylor’s 23.46-carat emerald Bulgari broach was sold for $6.57 million. The emerald and diamond necklace the pendant hangs from sold for an additional $6.13 million.
• In ancient Rome, green was the color of Venus, the goddess of beauty and love. Emerald’s deep green hues were associated with spring, rebirth, and fertility.
• Emeralds have been mined in Egypt since 1500 BC and India and Austria since at least the 14th century. The age of the oldest emeralds is 2.97 billion years and the come from South Africa.
• Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, was known to have a passion for emeralds and used it in her royal adornments. The Egyptians buried their Pharos with emeralds because they believed the stone had the power of eternal youth.
• The Incans and Aztecs of South America regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone and when Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century they introduced European royalty to the lush green gemstone.
• Emeralds were thought to endow the wearer with the ability to foresee the future when held under the tongue. Other cultures thought emeralds to reveal the truth and provide protection against evil spells.
• Emeralds were once thought to cure diseases like cholera and malaria. Wearing an emerald was believed to reveal the truth or falseness of lover’s oath as well as make one an eloquent speaker.
• Biblical legend states that emerald was one of the four precious stones given by God to King Solomon. The four stones were said to have endowed the king with power over all creation.

Hardness: 7.5 to 8

Care: Remove smudges with a soft lint-free cloth; detergent and water are safe for occasional cleaning but no soaking or hard scrubbing; never use ultrasonic.

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