As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth.
Emerald has been a synonym of the colour green since ancient times. A fine emerald is a truly breathtaking sight, considered one of the “big four” gems along with sapphire, ruby, and diamond. It is the birthstone for May as the green colour evokes nature at its full spring growth (Northern hemisphere) and for commemorating the 20th or 35th wedding anniversaries; although they are an outstanding gift for any occasion! The 55th wedding anniversary is called “emerald anniversary’.
The name “emerald” comes from the ancient Greek word for green “smaragados”. Although there are other green gems, emerald is the one associated with the lushest landscapes and the richest greens. Ireland is the Emerald isle, Seattle, in the US state of Washington, is the Emerald City. Thailand’s most sacred religious icon is called the Emerald Buddha, even though it is carved from green jadeite.
The first known emerald mines were in Egypt. Cleopatra had a passion for emeralds; she adorned herself and her palace with them, as they were considered sacred symbols of fertility and immortality. In South America, Incas used them in their jewellery and religious ceremonies.
Many powers were attributed to this gemstone:
- Provide riches, power and eloquence if worn as talisman
- Strengthen memory and sharpen wits
- Foresee the future when emerald was placed under the tongue
- Reveal truth and be protected against evil spells and demons
- Cure diseases like cholera and malaria
Wearing an emerald was believed to reveal the truth or falseness of a lover’s oath.
Emerald’s soothing green colour is thought to be restful to eyes under strain. Many gem cutters used to keep emeralds on their workbenches and rested their eyes on them after long hours of work.
Like the diamond and other gemstones, emeralds can be judged according to the 4Cs: colour, cut, clarity and carat weight. Nuances of saturation and hue affect price to a significant degree. The most desirable colour is a slightly bluish green in a medium dark tone with strong to vivid saturation. Clarity is important, but inclusions are tolerated more in this variety than virtually any other gem. Top quality, non treated stones (with certification) can bring as much as 50% more in price than treated stones of the same size, colour, and clarity.
“Who first beholds the light of day In the lovely, sweet month of May And wears an Emerald all her life Shall be a loved and happy wife”