This month of May, we are celebrating the Emerald, birthstone of the month of May, Pantone color of 2013 and a gem of royalty, romance and intrigue.
Emerald is the most precious stone in the beryl group of gemstones and is classified as one of the traditional four precious stones along with sapphire,ruby and diamond. The name emerald comes from the Greek “smaragdos” via the Old French “esmeralde”, and really just means ‘green gemstone.’
Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet flowery month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and happy wife.
– Gregorian Birthstone Poems
The wonderful green color of emerald is unparalleled in the gem world and its precious green color is caused by trace amounts of chromium and vanadium. Almost all natural emeralds contain characteristic inclusions (therefore are treated with oil or resins to fill tiny cracks) so for that reason, emeralds are generally more fragile than other beryls and must be handled more gently. With emerald, even more than other colored gems, its color is the chief determinant of value.
Quality emeralds are found in Colombia – the world center of mining emerald, India, Brazil, South Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Carolina USA, Russia in the Ural north of Sverdlovsk (Good qualities are rare as most stones are light or muddy and only suitable for cabochons.), and Zimbabwe (with the most important in the Sandawana mine in the south. The crystals are small, but of very good quality).
Further deposits are in Australia (New South Wales, Western Australia), Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia.
Emerald History and Folklore
- Emeralds are traditionally thought to enhance the clairvoyance of their wearers.
- Egyptian emeralds were introduced to the world about 4,000 years ago, but the stones from those mines are a duller green and are not considered high quality by today’s standards.
- Mummies were often buried with emeralds and the gems were popular in ancient Rome, but some think that many of the stones called emeralds in ancient times were actually peridot.
- Traditionally, emeralds are worn to promote healing and enhance love and contentment.
Care should be exercised when both wearing and cleaning emerald jewelry.
- Do not leave your emerald ring on while washing dishes or using soap as an emerald will attract grease and soap in which after a while, these substances will accumulate on the bottom of the gemstone, causing it to lose its lively brilliance.
- Do not wear your emerald when engaging in physical activity that might scratch the stone.
- To clean your emerald, use room temperature running water and a soft toothbrush with very mild soap like hand soap. Brush repeatedly on the underside of the emerald to remove accumulations of dirt and grease. You will see the emerald begin to brighten. It should then be rinsed thoroughly with cool water, and patted dry.
- Do not clean an emerald in ultrasonic cleaners, steam cleaners or acetone. These may cause damage to the stone or the setting. An emerald should never be exposed to high heat. A good rule of thumb is that if the cleaning solution you use is too hot for you to put your hand in, you should not place your emerald in it.
- Avoid using strong soaps/detergents, jewelry cleaner liquids or other cleaners as most of these are not compatible with the oil treatment of Emeralds.
- Cleaning should be done no more frequently than is necessary, and never more than several times a year. After many years of wear, you may wish to have your Emerald re-oiled. Most local Jewelers can provide this service.
Colors that go well with emerald green include: red, yellow/gold, blue, neutrals (black, white, nude) and amethyst
Emerald on the Street