3 Interesting Facts About The Birthstone For May, The Emerald

Who first beholds the light of day
In Spring’s sweet flowery month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and happy wife.


The Emerald

Like March’s aquamarine (who you should all be acquainted with), emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl and its deep sea-green colour comes from traces of chromium and sometimes vanadium within it. The traditional birthstone of Taurus, Gemini and sometimes Cancer, it was first discovered around 1500BCE in Egypt, near the Red Sea, was treasured by the Romans and was even reputed to be a favourite gemstone of Cleopatra herself!
These days, emerald is still seen as a particularly luxurious gemstone to wear and is thought to bring luck and signify loyalty, faithfulness and friendship.

Its name is derived from the Greek ‘smaragos’, via the old French ‘esmeralde’ which simply means ‘green gemstone’. To cast even further back though, the Incas and Aztecs of South America regarded emerald as a holy gemstone, as did the Vedas- the holy scripture of Indians. They thought that emerald held healing properties and promised good luck.

Emeralds are natural gemstones and are mined. After discovery in Egypt, they were first unearthed in India and Austria since the 14th century. The largest producer of emerald, however, is in Columbia, who produce between 50 and a staggering 95% of the worlds emeralds. This, of course, depends on the year, source and grade… some years are more fruitful than others. Zambia is the world’s second biggest producer of the gemstone and accounts for around 20% of world production.
They are also synthetically produced, but this process tends to be rarer than say synthetic diamonds.

Now for our three interesting fact’s starring May’s gemstone, which is also one of the four most precious stones known to man (we threw that one in as a bonus).

Interesting fact number one

Emeralds are actually quite brittle.

Emerald tends to have numerous inclusions and surface breaking fissures hence the reason that they have the reputation of being unlucky
Almost all natural emeralds undergo treatment to improve their colour and eliminate any visible imperfections. This practise uses a green-tinted oil to fill in any cracks and reinforce the stone against unintentional chipping or splintering. These imperfections within the stone are unique to each emerald and can be used to identify a particular stone
This relative crystal non-uniformity makes emeralds more likely than other gemstones to be cut into cabochons, rather than faceted shapes. Faceted Emeralds are most commonly given the Oval cut, or the signature Emerald cut, a rectangular cut with facets around the top edge.

Interesting fact number two

Largest Emerald

One of the largest emeralds discovered is the Mogul Emerald, weighing in at 217.80 carats. This astonishingly high calibre emerald is about 10cm high, which doesn’t actually sound like much.

Interesting fact number three

Ancient Folklore

According to ancient folklore, putting an emerald under your tongue would help one see into the future… I will have to try that one myself.

Now a little trivia..

What gemstone do you find in the sea? No googling aloud as we will reveal the answer in our sixth instalment!
Isn’t our gemstone series just flying in?! The half-way mark is fast-approaching and next time we are in-keeping with this resounding sea theme while we celebrate Three Interesting Facts about June’s birthstone…

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Written and researched by Hazel Martin for Helly and Haz of Helen Swan Designer Jewellery

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