EMERALD: May Birthstone
"The emerald condenses the green of the meadows and certain aspects of the ocean." - Charles Blanc
May's birthstone, the emerald, is the gem of spring and it's known for its vivid green color. The word “emerald” comes from the word smaragdos, which is ancient Greek for a green gem. Besides the emerald being May's birthstone, it's the gemstone given for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. It is believed to symbolize loyalty, new beginnings, and peace, making the emerald a meaningful gift to be treasured.
Like aquamarine, emerald is from the beryl family of minerals. It is also ranked a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. This means that it is more susceptible to scratching than a diamond, which ranks 10 on the scale.
The first known emerald mines existed in Egypt. It is believed that these mines were worked as early as 3500BC. The Ancient Egyptians prized the stone so much that they would bury mummies with it to represent 'eternal youth'. These gorgeous green gems were valued by many cultures. The emerald was often used as currency and worn as jewelry in places like ancient Greece and Rome.
Emerald Location and Treatment
Emeralds are found all over the world but Colombia has been the main source of the finest emeralds for more than 500 years. In fact, Colombian emeralds are the standard by which all other emeralds are measured. The May birthstone can also be found in Africa, Zambia to be exact, being another major source. Pakistan and Afghanistan are important producers as well.
The availability of a high-quality emerald is limited so they are often treated. There are a number of processes used to alter and improve the color and clarity of an emerald. Common treatment methods include:
Fracture Filling: Oils, waxes, and artificial resins are often used to fill surface-reaching fractures in emeralds. This is done to reduce the visibility of the fractures and improve the clarity.
Dyeing: Emeralds that are more pale and contain multiple fractures may be dyed green to make their color more enhanced.
Emerald Quality Factors
- Color: This is the most important aspect effecting the value of the emerald. Color should be evenly distributed and not too dark. Emerald color can range from light green to a deep, rich green. The deeper or more green an emerald is, the more valuable. The rarest emeralds will be an intense green-blue.
- Cut: This is very important on an emerald because the proper cut will maximize the green color that is desired. A popular cut for an emerald is the emerald shape. This cut brightens the stone and adds sparkle while minimizing inclusions.
- Clarity: Emeralds are usually highly included. This means the clarity of May’s birthstone is not graded under 10x magnification like the diamond but instead emeralds are graded by the naked eye. Inclusions are so common to an emerald that they do not greatly affect price. The value lies in the gem’s color.
- Carat Weight: There is a wide price range between smaller emeralds and larger ones. Some of the most famous emeralds in private collections or museums weigh hundreds of carats and are considered to be priceless. One of the largest rough emeralds ever found is the Bahia Emerald, weighing approximately 752 lbs (approximately 1,700,000 carats). It was discovered in 2001 from a mine in Bahia, Brazil. The stone has been valued at around $400 million, but the true value is unclear.
Emerald Jewelry in Boca Raton
Stop by our jewelry store in Boca Raton to have a look at our beautiful collection of emerald jewelry.