May is for emeralds
Emerald is pretty fitting as May’s birthstone. Usually a vibrant shade of green, it calls to mind the plants bursting into life all around us. Said to open the heart and calm the emotions, it’s the perfect companion for someone born in the season of renewal.
Our monthly Elements Collection is all about contrast with oxidized silver and 14k yellow gold, highlighted with each of the glittering stones discussed here.
What is an emerald?
Emerald is a type of beryl, composed of aluminum, silica, and beryllium. Trace amounts of chromium or sometimes vanadium lend it that deep green color emblematic of this gem. Emerald is not quite as durable as sapphire (9), but it’s still a respectable 7.5-8 on the Mohs hardness scale. Emeralds are fairly common throughout the earth’s crust, and as with any gem, unusual sizes, features, or other points of interest can make individual stones highly sought and valuable.
as unique as your soul
Emeralds are often very “included.” This means they have bits of other elements in their makeup that form various patterns and designs within the gem. Emeralds commonly have inclusions, which can become a weak point for them if handled too carelessly.
Gemstones have three classifications that rank their typical clarity: I, II, and III. Class I is most likely to possess utmost clarity and have few or no inclusions - like topaz, aquamarine, and heliodor. Sapphires, rubies, and quartz fall into class II, while emeralds fall into Class III, since they almost always have inclusions.
This tendency toward inclusions makes each emerald unique, with distinct patterns within the stones that can distinguish one from another. Bound inside that dark green hexagonal crystal structure lies patterns that resemble leaves or moss. The term for these inclusions, jardin, stems from the French word for garden. How fitting for May's birthstone!
A HARBINGER OF NEW LIFE
Emerald has long been perceived as life-affirming and is believed to open the heart Chakra and calm emotions. Many use it to find inspiration, seek wisdom, achieve balance, and attain patience. Helping the wearer give and receive unconditional love may promote friendship, harmony, and domestic bliss, and ancients believed emeralds to hold the power of persuasion. As one of the oldest minerals collected by man, it's understandable that it would acquire such a reputation.
THE RICH HISTORY OF EMERALDS AS MEDICINE
Emerald has a history of medical use, too. It's said to heal the eyes and restore weary vision, which could have some basis in color theory and color therapy. Green is the least stressful color on the eyes, which is one reason doctors changed their white scrubs and gowns to green or pale blue. Everyone has experienced the simple joy of gazing at a lush field or stately forest, so one can only imagine what the rich hue of an emerald can do for the soul.
Ancient peoples also recognized the soothing attributes of the color green, including Roman writer/historian Pliny. From his work Natural History: “Indeed no stone has a color that is more delightful to the eye, for whereas the sight fixes itself with avidity upon the green grass and foliage of the trees, we have all the more pleasure in looking upon the emerald, there being no green in existence more intense than this. And then, besides, of all the precious stones, this is the only one that feeds the sight without satiating it…If the sight has been wearied or dimmed by intensively looking on any other subject, it is refreshed and restored by gazing at this stone. And lapidaries who cut and engrave fine gems know this well, for they have no better method of restoring their eyes than by looking at the emerald, its soft green color comforting and removing their weariness and lassitude.”
While anyone can get behind the mood-boosting effects of a beautiful gemstone, not everyone will accept what other things emerald was regarded to fix - Emerald was also believed to prevent serious illness or protect the wearer from poison. It was even said to alleviate the pain of childbirth if strapped to the thigh of the expectant mother.
The gemstone for all
Since emeralds are relatively common across the world and not as hard to cut as diamonds, people of all classes and stations were able to possess them. Not merely for royalty, emeralds were a common component of amulets and talismans meant to protect the wearer from harm and ward off evil.
Emeralds were endowed with many powers, such as the ability to prevent demonic possession and calm storms at sea. It was also imbued by popular thought with the power to bestow intelligence, sharpen the wit, make one a better speaker, and strengthen love. If one wished for the ability to predict the future, one need only place an emerald beneath the tongue.
Since emerald was also thought to encourage loyalty and honesty, it’s a perfect gem to wear for business meetings and when discussing a partnership. It also makes it the ideal stone for an engagement ring.
The emerald may mean many things to many people, but the one thing everyone agrees upon is its unmatched beauty!