May Birthstone Blog: Emerald
If you are a May baby, like me, you are lucky to have one of the most treasured stones throughout history as your birthstone. Emeralds are the green variety of the mineral Beryl, a beryllium aluminium silicate. They get their green colouring from including either chromium or vanadium in their chemical composition. Natural emeralds always feature many natural inclusions, giving them their signature look. These inclusions in the natural stone can make emerald quite brittle and easily damaged despite its relatively high hardness of 8 on the Moh's scale. A crystal clear emerald, free from any internal or surface-reaching inclusions whatsoever, is a sure sign of a synthetic, man-made stone.
Culturally, emeralds have been treasured and celebrated for over 6000 years. Almost every major religion or culture held the emerald in high esteem, attributing their own special meanings and superstitions to this stunning gem. The ancient Egyptians believed the emerald to be a symbol of eternal life. Cleopatra was so enamored with emeralds that the emerald mines in Egypt at that time were named after her. In more recent history, the emerald was often worn by the women of the suffragette movement as a symbol of optimism, new growth, and hope.
Many celebrities and royals have famously adorned themselves with emeralds. Elizabeth Taylor's stunning emerald jewellery, gifted to her by her husband at the time, Richard Burton, readily comes to mind. Jackie Onassis, Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth II have also been photographed wearing this popular gem throughout recent history. Even without the help of celebrity adornment, many large emerald stones are famous in their own right.
This stunning emerald and diamond tiara is one of the few surviving jewellery pieces after the second French revolution. It once belonged to the daughter of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. It is now securely housed at the Louvre in Paris. (Image source: gemrockauctions.com)
One of the most famous Colombian emerald specimens is the Mogul Moghal. This 219-carat stunner features intricate carvings of Arabic and Muslim prayer on one side and a beautiful floral design on the opposite side. It was recently sold at auction for $2 million in 2001.
Emerald is one of the zodiac stones for cancer and is also one of the stones associated with the Archangel Raphael. Metaphysically, it is a stone of wisdom and truth, enhancing focus and intelligence. It is symbolic of spring, nature, and spring's new growth and life. Emerald is believed to protect from curses and spells and is a powerful protection talisman to carry with you. As one of the "big four" precious gems, gem-grade emerald can be financially out of reach for many people. Suppose you want to work with emerald for its many metaphysical benefits. In that case, you should be able to obtain a specimen of non-facet grade emerald in its matrix rock, or a tumbled stone without too much trauma to the bank balance.
Next month, check back into the Crystal Common Blog for our June birthstone write-up on not one, not two but three special subjects. June is pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite month, and we can't wait!