May Birthstone - EMERALD
By: Dee & Noam ~
Emerald is the most valuable form of the beryl family and one of the world’s most precious gems. The word “Emerald” come from the Greek word “Smaragodos” which means greenstone. The emerald come in various shade of green, from deep dark green to soft green, fine grass green and light green. Most gemologists, gemological laboratories, and colored stone dealers call a stone green beryl when its color is “too light” for it to be classified as emerald.
Reflecting the color of new spring growth, emerald is the perfect choice of a birthstone for the month of May. It’s also the gemstone for twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries.
There are other green gems, like tourmaline and peridot, but emerald is the one that’s always 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’s carved from green jadeite.
The first known emerald mines were in Egypt, dating from at least 330 BC into the 1700s. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald, and used it in her royal adornments. Emeralds from what is now Colombia were part of the plunder when sixteenth-century Spanish explorers invaded the New World. The Incas had already been using emeralds in their jewelry and religious ceremonies for 500 years. The Spanish, who treasured gold and silver far more than gems, traded emeralds for precious metals. Their trades opened the eyes of European and Asian royalty to emerald’s majesty.
Legends endowed the wearer with the ability to foresee the future when emerald was placed under the tongue, as well as to reveal truth and be protected against evil spells. Emerald was once also believed to cure diseases like cholera and malaria. Wearing an emerald was believed to reveal the truth or falseness of a lover’s oath as well as make one an eloquent speaker.
Emerald is relatively strong gemstones, registering 7.5 – 8 on the Moh’s scale of hardness. While they are fairly resilient to knocks, they can be chipped or scratched.
Fissures and cracks are common in emeralds. Like most gemstones in the market today, emeralds are usually treated in some way to remove surface flaw and enhance color. The most common and acceptable technique is to oil the stone with green tinted oil to fill in surface cracks. The oil hardens and strengthens the stone and improves its green color as well.