Emerald – The Birthstone of May

Emerald – The Birthstone of May

Emerald is one of the four precious gemstones, the others include the ruby, sapphire and diamond. Emerald has been valued and cherished as a holy stone in almost all cultures and civilizations where Emerald has been found.

Emerald is a variety of beryl and is of a bluish-green to yellowish-green to green color. Green color since ancient time is considered sacred and it is the color of resuscitation and rejuvenation, regeneration, resurrection, abundance, luck and wealth.

Emerald is the most widely known variety of beryl. Other beryls include Aquamarine, Heliodor and Golden Beryl, Morganite, Goshenite, Red Beryl and Pezzottaite.

The most sought-after and valued emerald is the slightly bluish-green colored with a strong intensity, and with a medium dark color.

Emerald and Green beryl both belong to the same beryl family. Yet, there are many differences.

Though both occur in a hexagonal crystal structure, they differ in:

- Color
Emerald can be green to greenish-blue while the color of Green Beryl is pale green or very light green.
- Inclusions
Naturally occurring Emeralds are generally heavily included whereas Green Beryls have little inclusions in them.
- Trace Elements
The color green in emerald is due to the presence of chromium or vanadium (or a combination of both). But Green Beryl is green because of the presence of iron.
- Rarity
Emeralds are extremely rare whereas Green Beryls are not.
- Refractive index (RI)
Emerald is 1.565-1.602 whereas Green Beryl's is 1.58-1.59.
- Zodiac Sign
- Emerald is Taurus and Green Beryl is Scorpio.

A flawless emerald is one that occurs with neither inclusions nor surface fissures visible to the naked eye. But these are even more extremely rare.

Almost all cut emeralds have had clarity enhancements.

Emerald is derived from the ancient Sanskrit Marakata which means “the green growing of things.” The Hebrews called emerald Baraket which means flashing green, the Arabs called it Baraq "flashing" and the ancient Egyptians called it emerald Bwyrq, meaning "to flash or sparkle". From Marakata Sanskrit, it was translated by the Greeks and became Smaragdo, and of course, later it was adopted by the Roman and became Smaralda [today Spanish Esmeralda], in the Old French Esmeraude, in Old English Emeraude.

Pliny the Elder wrote that "nothing greens greener" than emerald. He also said that ancient gemstone workers would heal their tired eyes by “looking at the emerald, … and removing their weariness and lassitude.” Today crystal healers also recommend emerald to alleviate eye strain.

Emerald just like Lapis Lazuli have been considered holy stones since ancient times. It was worn as powerful talismans for protecting oneself against sorcery and the evil spells of witches. The ancient Hindus offered emeralds to Lord Krishna in order to obtain information regarding souls that have crossed to the other plane of existence. Ancient Egyptians associated the emerald with fertility and resurrection.

The ancient Romans associated the emerald with the bright morning and evening star, the planet Venus, which rules over Taurus [from May 1 to May 20]. However, the ancient Hindus associate emeralds with the planet Mercury which rules over Gemini [from May 21 to June 21].

Babylonians, Egyptians, the Incas and the Native Americans of Colombia have known and mined and considered Emeralds as sacred stones. Queen Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emeralds that it was said she had surrounded herself with them. This was reenacted in the 1963 film Cleopatra by Elizabeth Taylor who was also gifted a Bulgari emerald by her then lover Richard Burton.

There is a legend about an Emerald that came from the Inca people of South America and arrived in the hands of the Aztec monarch Moctezuma II. This emerald was then presented to Hernan Cortez who named it ‘The Isabella Emerald’ in honor of the Queen of Spain. This emerald was lost in 1757 somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle and was rediscovered in 1992. Today this emerald is valued at the price of over $20 million dollars.

Emeralds can be found all over the earth. However, important sources can only be found in South America such as Colombia which is the main source for “deep green” emeralds; India, Russia, Afghanistan, United States and Africa also are important sources for emeralds.

Colombia, Brazil and Zambia are the main producers of fine emeralds. Brazilian emeralds occur with an excellent clarity and a bit of yellowish-green color. Zambia emeralds have a bluish-green color similar to Colombia’s ‘emerald-green’ emeralds.

The green color in gemstones usually stands for rebirth and resurrection, wealth, fertility and security. Emerald is attributed to the planet Venus which in ancient times was the goddess of both love and war.

Emerald promotes harmony, unity, compassion, patience, in friends and also in lovers. It is well known for giving peace at home and in the office.

Emerald is the gemstone gifted to those who are celebrating their 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

Emerald since ancient times have been associated with both physical vision and spiritual vision such as intuition and the ability to foretell the future. Emerald was considered the gemstone of wisdom that can help enhance memory and intelligence. It was believed that it could help restore and heal the eyes and eyesight.

Emerald since it is associated with rebirth is believed to have the ability to fight off aging and empowering debilitated organs in the body. It has also been used to treat illnesses and conditions of the lungs, liver, gall bladder, pancreas and kidneys.

Emerald is also said to heal indigestion, vomiting and dysentery. At one time emeralds were prized as antidote against poison. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, powdered emerald is still being used in their medicines.

Emerald is also known as the "The Stone of Successful Love" and is believed it can revive lost passions and give life to a dying spirit. It can help treat people who are depressed, with low self-esteem by giving them confidence and trust in themselves. It will give the wearer an ability to speak in front of others, and speak fluently and eloquently with no fear.

Emerald like all beryl have a hardness ranging from 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. Despite this hardness, emeralds occur heavily included and with surface-breaking fissures or fractures that give emerald toughness ranging from good to poor. Due to this fact, emeralds are surface treated with oils, resins and polymers. It is thus recommended to avoid high temperatures such as intense light, heat, or chemicals due to these oils, and also, that emeralds should come with a protective metal setting to prevent the emerald from breaking or becoming fractured.

The safest method to clean your precious emerald is to use soapy water with a soft cloth. Remember to rinse well and remove all soapy residue in the gemstone.

Besides the emerald there are secondary May Birthstones: these include Agate and Chrysoprase.

Agate is historically the May Birthstone. It is a quartz mineral that obtained its name from the river in Sicily where it was found, the Achates River. It has a hardness ranging from 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. It is classified as a volcanic rock.

It occurs in many different colors and patterns, including multicolored with their own unique banding. One-colored agate gemstones do occur in nature. However, most of the one-colored agate gemstones sold on the market today have been dyed.

Natural occurring one-colored agate gemstones are traded with the names of Sard and Carnelian. Agate, nonetheless can also occur in green, black, blue, red, yellow, orange, brown, pink, purple, gray and white colors.

In the Ayurvedic (Indian system of medicine) it is agate that is the birthstone for May.

Agate also has a history that goes thousands of years; and, since ancient times it was considered a powerful stone for protection again nightmares, tiredness and stress. It was also used and highly valued as talismans and amulets and were used for protection against storms.

Agate was used to fight off fevers and quench the thirst. It is also used in the solar plexus today by crystal healers to cure stomach illnesses.

Chrysoprase looks similar to jade and this green color is due to the presence of nickel.

Chrysoprase is extremely rare and is the most valuable forms of Chalcedony Quartz. The second one is Silica which is also rare and occurs as a green-blue gemstone, and is known as 'chrysocolla chalcedony.'

As with all forms of chalcedony, chrysoprase has a hardness of 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale.

The name Chrysoprase is from Greek, Chrysos means "golden" and Prason means "apple" or "leek." The golden part alludes to the golden inclusions that are found within the gemstone.

Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used this stone to make seals and ornamental jewelries. It was considered the sacred stone of Greek goddess Aphrodite. Alexander the Great had worn a girdle that contained a lucky chrysoprase stone that helped him win battles. He believed that the stone protected him of all evils. Once his chrysoprase was stolen by a serpent, he started losing battles.

Chrysoprase is a highly spiritual stone. It has the power to banish greed, selfishness and folly. It also brings happiness and success in business.

Chrysoprase calms irritation and it rouses one to action and adventure as it stimulates creativity and hope.

The stone is also good for the eyesight. It was believed that by gazing at the stone when the moon was full, it could heal any eye ailments.

Chrysoprase is the birthstone for May and a crystal of Venus. It is a stone of compassion as it activates both the heart and solar plexus chakras and helps to promote emotional balance.

And just like all green gemstones, Chrysoprase also brings good fortune, wealth, prosperity, success business, happiness, protection, and abundance.