How perfect that just as everything is starting to bloom and green up the May birthdays get to celebrate with vivid green gemstone jewelry. Both the modern and traditional birthstone for May, the emerald, is a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner youth, foresight, and good fortune. Emerald, derived from the word "smaragdus," means, quite literally, "green" in Greek. This term was adopted into Latin as smaralda, then into Old French as esmeraude, and finally Old English as emeraude. Ancient Romans dedicated this gemstone, emerald, to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.
Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and Emeralds
Cleopatra loved emeralds, but we don't know if she was a May birthday. She was born in 69 BC, and it is believed Emerald gemstones were mined in Egypt as early as 330 BC. The oldest emeralds may be as old as 2.97 billion years old. Her love so strong for the gemstone Cleopatra claimed ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign. The Egyptians used emeralds both in jewelry and in their elaborate burials, often burying emerald stones with monarchs as symbols of protection.
Fearful of enchantment and evil spells, Emeralds were worn in the ancient world as a talisman for protection. This May birthstone was thought to "see" through lies, thus considered to reveal the truth. The ancient Hindus brought gifts of emeralds to Krishna, a principal Hindu deity, in return for his teachings of the soul and the eternal. In contrast, the ancient Egyptians regarded the emerald as a symbol of fertility and rebirth.
In the 1963 film, Cleopatra the legendary Egyptian queen was played Elizabeth Taylor, While in Italy during this production, Taylor's lover and subsequent husband, Richard Burton, gave her an emerald and diamond suite comprised of a necklace, pendant, earrings, rings, and bracelet.
The suite of emerald and diamond jewelry from the Italian jewelry house, Bulgari was a gift from Richard Burton, the result of several trips to the Bulgari boutique on the Via Condotti in Rome from 1962 - 1967. Necklace estimate: $1 million to $1.5 million Pendant estimate: $500,000 – $700,000 Ring estimate: $600,000 - $800,000 Bracelet estimate: $300,000 – $500,000 Earrings estimate: $150,000- $200,000
Cleopatra's mines remained active until the discovery of large emerald deposits in modern-day Columbia. Discovered by the Spanish in 1514, the Muzo Indians of Colombia had well-hidden emeralds and emerald mines. Mined from the surrounding rock by the Muzo people with pointed wooden poles, called coa. The Muzo lived life in conflict with neighboring tribes and then the Spanish but valued their Emeralds so much they went to great lengths to hide them and the locations of the mines, even enduring torture and death to keep the secrets safe.
Today the May birthstone is mined all over the world with Brazil and Zambia among the leading producers. There are also significant deposits in Australia, India, Russia, Afghanistan, and the US. Columbia, the third leading producer, is the most well-known source for "deep green" emeralds.
Emerald, one of "The Big Four" (diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire) of precious gemstones. Emerald is of the beryl family, and its color, emerald green, is the only thing that distinguishes emerald from other beryl gems. Aquamarine, which is sea blue and the March birthstone, a pale pink version called morganite, and a colorless version named goshenite are all beryl gemstones. The color that constitutes emerald green is up to interpretation. The difference between the color of emerald and green beryl with its weaker, lighter tones can affect the price by thousands of dollars per carat.
As with all transparent gemstones, clarity is related to the color, and emerald is no exception. Emeralds are typically graded by eye and not the jeweler's loupe (10x magnification), as with diamonds due to numerous inclusions and surface fissures. Therefore, if there are neither inclusions nor surface fissures visible to the naked eye, the emerald is considered flawless.
Most beryl rough contains minute amounts of chemical impurities called trace elements. Beryl crystals grow in rapidly changing conditions that affect the concentrations of trace elements, and in turn, the ultimate color of the crystal. An emerald's color is caused by traces of chromium, vanadium, and iron, which are locked into the stone's crystal structure.
The relative amounts of each of these three trace elements determine the color of the emerald. In general, higher amounts of chromium or vanadium create an intense, pure green. The trace element iron creates a blue hue in emerald, which deepens according to its concentration in the crystal.
Brazilian emeralds are recognized for their excellent clarity and slightly yellowish-green color. In contrast, Zambian emeralds are desired for their somewhat bluish-green color, which is similar to that of Colombia's 'emerald-green' emeralds.
A combination of three factors gauges gemstone durability: hardness, which is its resistance to scratching, toughness as in its resistance to chipping, cracking and breakage, and stability or resistance to chemicals, high temperatures, and light. Emerald is considered very durable. It has a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale, which means it resists scratching but is slightly less tough or stable.
Care of Emeralds
You need to take special care with emerald jewelry to avoid any knocks against hard surfaces. The May birthstone jewelry design should be protective by metal settings or additional more durable, smaller gemstones to prevent the emerald from incurring chips, fractures, or breakage.
As a universally cherished and highly prized gemstone, perhaps it is better to reserve emerald jewelry for special occasions. Emerald jewelry should always be removed before physical activity or situations where it may be exposed to intense light, heat, or chemicals.
Warm soapy water and a soft brush is always the safest method for cleaning gemstones and especially emeralds. Approximately 90% of natural emeralds have had some type of surface treatment to fill fractures with oils, resins, or polymers. The intense heat of steam cleaners can not only cause new fractures and exacerbate existing ones, and it can cause these fillers to sweat out of the fractures. The use of ultrasonic cleaners is also not advised because the vibrations of these cleaners can weaken already fractured emeralds.
Green is a color that represents growth, nature, money, fertility, and safety. The Heart Chakra, the wellspring of emotions, is represented by the color green, which is known as a positive energy color that balances our emotions, enabling us to love ourselves and others unconditionally. It encourages domestic bliss, contentment, and loyalty in marriage. Known as "The Stone of Successful Love," the May birthstone is often given on the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
Zodiac Signs for May
Two zodiac signs cross into May dates Taurus (April 21 – May 20) and Gemini (May 21 – June 21). The gemstone associated with Taurus is sapphire, the traditional and modern birthstone for April, and Gemini is associated with agate, considered, and the alternate birthstone for May. Interestingly, Cancer (June 22 – July 22) is associated with emerald.
Agate gemstones are one of the oldest stones in recorded history and are known as a stone of protection from nightmares, stress, and fatigue. Worn as talismans and amulets throughout ancient times agate was thought to protect against imminent storms. Agate is believed to quench thirst and protect from fevers. Alternative healers will place agate stone on the solar plexus to alleviate stomach illnesses.
Agate is primarily classified as volcanic rock and occurs in a wide range of colors and patterns. Almost all agate is multicolored due to its unique banding. Single-colored agates can occur naturally, but most of the stones available today have been dyed to obtain unicolor. Single-colored agates are often traded using specific trade names, such as Sard and Carnelian. Agate colors can include black, white, blue, red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink, purple and gray.
Chrysoprase Also an Option for May Birthstone
In contemporary Britain, chrysoprase, a variety of chalcedony quartz, is considered a May birthstone, as well.
Chrysoprase is considered to be one of the rarest and most valuable varieties of chalcedony quartz and is highly prized for its opalescent minty, apple-green color, reminiscent of the finest quality of jade. It has the same Mohs hardness of 7 as agate and is considered a great choice for durable May birthstone jewelry.
The name "chrysoprase" originates from the Greek words, chrusos and prason, meaning 'gold' and 'leek', respectively; referring to its leek-green color and the presence of golden inclusions. According to Greek legend, chrysoprase ensured a happy marriage and good health. Chrysoprase promotes inner-strength and courage.
Emerald is truly the queen of all gemstones; anyone born in May is fortunate to have such an exquisite and noble gem as their birthstone. Able to strengthen the physical vision, as well as the psychic, emerald opens the heart and balances the emotions so that we can live in unconditional love and compassion.
Emeralds are a lot like people: some have more faults than others, but overall they are durable enough to stand up to daily life, as long as it is done with a bit of caution and awareness. Emeralds make a fantastic choice for all types of jewelry - especially May birthstone jewelry!