May's Birthstone: Emerald

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Emerald symbolizes springtime and the rebirth and regeneration of life. Emerald’s lush green color has excited imaginations since antiquity. The first known written account of emerald was translated from Sanskrit referring to “the green of growing things.” The current name emerald comes from the ancient Greek word for green, “smaragdus.” Prized by pharaohs, the first known emerald mining occurred in Egypt, dating from as early as 330 BC. Cleopatra was an avid collector, using emeralds in her royal adornments. Throughout history, emerald became a prized possession of queens and kings, and has become the May Birthstone. 100 East Fine Jewelry currently does not offer any pieces containing emerald. However, we do have a ring with a similarly colored tourmaline gemstone.

Green Tourmaline Gemstone Ring in 18K White GoldGreen Tourmaline Gemstone Jewelry

Emerald is believed to bring health and wealth to its owner, symbolizing rebirth, the abundance of the life force and hope of new possibilities. Wearing an emerald was believed to reveal the truth or falseness of a lover’s oath as well as make one an eloquent speaker. Upheld as a symbol of devotion, contentment and undying love, emerald traditionally has been thought to protect and renew relationships. It is also the chosen gift for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

Emerald is a popular gemstone choice for brides who want to express their individuality. Take a cue from Jackie Kennedy who received an emerald ring from John F. Kennedy.

Emerald has been the standard for green colored stones for millennia. The most desirable emerald colors are bluish green to pure green, with vivid color saturation and tone that’s not too dark. The most-prized emeralds are highly transparent. The more vivid the color, the more valuable the gemstone.

Today, most of the world's emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil and Zambia. The mountain ranges of the Colombian Andes are famous as the source of many of the world’s most prized emeralds. Others sources include Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Russia, China and Afghanistan

Emeralds can be cut in a variety of different shapes, ranging from the traditional rectangular step-cut, known as the "emerald cut," to rounds, ovals, squares and cabochons. Fashioned emeralds come in a wide range of sizes. Quality-for-quality, the price of emerald can rise dramatically as the size increases.

Famous emeralds include:

Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald pendant

Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald pendant sold in 2011 for $6,578,500, a record $280,000 per carat. The pendant could be worn on its own or at the end of a necklace. It was part of an emerald and diamond suite Ms Taylor owned which also included a brooch, necklace, earrings, bracelet and a ring. (Image via Maia Davitashvili.)

Chalk Emerald

The Chalk Emerald, originally 38.40 carats in weight, was mined in Colombia, becoming the center piece of an emerald and diamond necklace made for Indian royalty. The gemstone is prized for its combination of color and clarity. In the 20th century, the emerald was re-cut to 37.83 carats and set in a ring designed by Harry Winston. The ring was donated to the Smithsonian Institute in 1972. Photo by Chip Clark.

Duke of Devonshire emerald crystal

The Duke of Devonshire emerald crystal is the one of the world’s most famous uncut emeralds, weighing 1383.93 carats. Originally mined in Colombia, it currently resides in London’s Natural History Museum. Photo Credit: Natural History Museum

Gachala Emerald Crystal

The Gachala Emerald Crystal was found in 1967 in Colombia. It is renowned for its combination of size and superb green with a hint of blue color. The Gachala weighs 858 carats and was donated to the Smithsonian by Harry Winston in 1969. Photo by Chip Clark

Credit American Gem Trade Association and The Gemological Institute of America.

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