With the colours of spring appearing, emeralds are the most desirable of birthstones for May. Over centuries the emerald has been prized by royalty for its breath-taking green coloured stone.
The world "Emerald" comes from "smaragdos", ancient Greek for "green gem". The Roman author Pliny the Elder, who died in the 79 CE eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, wrote in his encyclopedic natural history that “nothing greens greener” He also stated that the May birthstone had therapeutic properties that helped gem cutters. Their soft, green colour was comforting and removed their weariness and lassitude. Science has now proved this belief: the colour green relieves stress and eye strain. Emeralds were also thought to have supernatural powers. Some believed that they offered protection against evil spells, cholera and malaria.
The finest quality emeralds have come from Colombia for over the last 500 years. Three of the most recognised mines are Muzo, Chivor and Coscuez. Emeralds are also found in Brazil, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Emerald, with its rich green to bluish green is a variety of beryl, a mineral species that also includes aquamarine and other varieties of colours. It is the trace elements chromium, vanadium and iron that create this iconic colour. Emeralds differ from other stones because one very individual characteristic which separates them from any other stone. Gemologists identify them with their three-phase inclusions that consist of tiny crystals or rock salt, a liquid and bubble of gas. The emerald inclusions are often describe as looking mossy or garden-like. They’re sometimes referred to as "jardin", which is French for "garden".
Emerald qualities to look for:
Colour: This is the most important factor in the May birthstone. The finest emeralds are bluish green to green, with a strong to vivid saturation and medium to medium-dark tone.
Clarity: Eye clean emeralds are the most valuable because they are so rare. They often do contain inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Commonly these lower quality emeralds are often treated to improve their clarity, however this dramatically effects the value of the stone. The most common treatment is fracture filling.
Cut: The well-known “Emerald-Cut” with its beveled corners and two, three or four concentric rows of facets, maximizes the shape and the weight of the original rough crystal. They are commonly cut in this shape as they are a very brittle stone and so therefore are hugely difficult to cut without affecting the overall appearance of the stone. They can also be cut into cabochons, beads other faceted shapes.
This Emerald Bead and Diamond-set Necklace, is a fine example of emerald’s exquisite colour. This graduated necklace comprises fifty seven diamonds and fifty eight emeralds. Set with wire links of white gold the necklace is a perfect birthstone gift for a May Birthday. It is delicate in its form and the emeralds are complimented by faceted briolette diamonds.