EMERALD: May Birthstone

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EMERALD: May Birthstone

"The emerald condenses the green of the meadows and certain aspects of the ocean." - Charles Blanc

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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.


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.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 gemstones


Given the lack of a standardized emerald grading system, it is important to know what to look for when purchasing emerald jewelry.

  • Emerald 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.
  • Emerald 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.
  • Emerald 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.
  • Emerald 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. 


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      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, but the most common treatment method is oiling. Oils are often used to fill surface-reaching fractures in emeralds. This is done to reduce the visibility of the fractures and improve the clarity and color. Oil treatments are not necessarily permanent and stable. Time, heat, or improper cleaning, will cause the oil to evaporate, change color, or leach out of the stone. This is not a problem because emeralds can be re-oiled if the oil is accidentally removed or it has become discolored. For cleaning purposes, using warm, soapy water coupled with gentle scrubbing is the safest way to clean emeralds. It’s risky to clean them ultrasonically or with steam because the ultrasonic vibrations can weaken already-fractured stones, and hot steam can cause oil or unhardened resin to sweat out of fractures. 



      Often times when purchasing a fine quality emerald it will be accompanied by a certificate. There are countless laboratories that grade emeralds some of which are good and some not so good. G.I.A (Gemology Institute Of America) is known as one of the top labs in the world who grade precious gemstones. Two other very respected laboratories that grade only colored stones (rubies, sapphires & emeralds) are G.R.S (Gem Research Swiss-Lab) and AGL (American Gemological Laboratories).

      When looking over a lab report (certificate) you can trust, remember that origin is a very important factor as well as treatment, both of which should be indicated on the certificate (lab report). We do not recommend purchasing a larger fine emerald without a TRUSTED lab report! There has been many instances of innocent victims being fooled by bogus lab reports claiming false information.

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      Looking for emerald jewelry in Boca Raton? Devon's Diamonds & Decor has got you covered. Stop by our jewelry store in Boca Raton to view our selection of emerald jewelry; including emerald rings, emerald earrings, emerald bracelets and emerald necklaces.

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