May’s birthstone, the emerald, is renowned for its striking green color. If you or your loved one was lucky enough to be born in May, you get to have the pleasure of having one of the most eye-catching birthstone gems.
Emeralds are known as a symbol of loyalty, rebirth, and love. They are considered one of the “Big Four” gems, alongside diamond, sapphires, and rubies. This green gem is bold enough to stand on its own in any piece of jewelry but pairs well with others.
Emerald is a form of beryl like its sister gemstone Aquamarine, the birthstone for March; both grow with six sides and can be up to one foot in length. The emerald is also the gem associated with the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
One of the most legendary emeralds is the Atahualpa Emerald, a large gem that adorns the Crown of the Andes (La Corona de los Andes in Spanish). The gem was purportedly taken from Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, after he was captured by conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1532.
The Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a Spanish treasure galleon, was shipwrecked by a hurricane off the Florida coast in 1622. The ship was recovered in 1985 and among its $400 million treasure was a huge cache of 71 lbs. of rare Muzo emeralds.
In general, an emerald gains more value the deeper green the gem is.
These green gemstones are found all around the world, with the primary mines in Brazil, Colombia, and Zambia.
The word emerald derives from the Ancient Greek word “smaragdus” (zmá-raɡ-dos), which, quite literally, translates to “emerald.”
Emeralds have been sought after by royalty since ancient times. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra loved the gem to the point that she declared herself the owner of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign. She was so associated with the gem that it would be the equivalent in modern times to equating Elizabeth Taylor with diamonds.
Across the ocean in South America, the Muzo Indians were so protective of their emerald mines that they hid them from all others; it took Spanish conquistadors nearly 20 years to discover their locations.
Emeralds are fairly scratch resistant — they rank between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs hardness scale — so they’re great for everyday jewelry.
However, they do require some special care. You want to avoid exposing them to heat and harsh chemicals. They also don’t do well with major changes in air pressure, so avoid taking them with you in an airplane cabin.
If your emerald has been fracture filled, you want to avoid using an ultrasonic cleaner as the vibrations and heat can cause the filler to sweat out. You should avoid wearing your emerald jewelry while washing the dishes, too, as the hot water can damage the gem.
The best way to clean your emerald jewelry is with a gentle scrub from a soft brush with warm, soapy water.
Emeralds can be enjoyed as everyday jewelry, but are also precious enough to reserve for the most special occasions. Jewelry made with emeralds are the perfect gift for your loved one with a May birthday. These vibrant gems are a wonderful choice for anyone who loves the color green!
At our three northern Indiana Peter Franklin Jeweler locations in Fort Wayne, New Haven, and Angola, our customer experience professionals are ready to help you select the perfect piece crafted by our exclusive partners or design a custom piece of your own creation. Shop online or browse our website for inspiration and experience the Peter Franklin difference.