Emerald - Mays Gemstone of Earthly Envy

By: Sarah Stephens

Emerald is a precious gemstone frequently incorporated into some of the most modern, beautiful handmade jewelry in the world. It is most often found in shades of opaque or translucent green, and is widely recognized as the May Birthstone and the gemstone for the 20th, 35th and 45th anniversaries. But beyond its modern-day uses and associations, emerald holds a decadent mythological, spiritual and etymological history that adds nostalgic value to its already strong aesthetic worth. Read on for more information that will help you fall in love with your emerald jewelry - or inspire you to buy some today!

Emerald is the green variety of the species beryl and is one of the three most precious of colored stones, ranging from a light lemony-lime green to a dark, intense forest green, and bluish-green. The name Emerald is derived from the French word "esmeraude," which goes back to the Greek word "smaragdos" that means "green gemstone." Emerald has long been considered the finest of the green colored stones, as it is often compared to rich green landscapes--Ireland is called the "Emerald Isle."

The ancient Incas and Aztecs in South America worshipped the Emerald, proclaiming it was a holy stone, offering it to the Gods. They would rather suffer death than reveal their Emerald sources! The Greeks also dedicated this beautiful green gem to the goddess Venus.

Emerald gemstones look best as parts of formal evening jewelry when paired with Black Onyx, white pearls or black diamonds. More casual combinations include lighter contrasts of green emerald with quartz, carnelian or topaz. To see a selection of handmade artisan jewelry featuring emerald, click here. Emerald is typically considered a sophisticated gemstone that works well with any outfit. In earrings, it works especially well to enhance the luster of green or hazel eyes.

Emeralds are believed to promote physical and emotional healing, in addition to symbolize faith and immortality, aid eye-sight, and intelligence. They are said to have a powerful affect on both the subconscious and conscious mind, increasing memory and psychic awareness.

The Emerald was first mined in Egypt around 3500 BC. The Egyptian Pharaohs called these sources "Cleopatra Mines." Egypt was a major source until the 16th century, until the Spaniards discovered more in South America (Columbia). Today they are found in Zambia, Brazil, Africa, and Russia, just to name a few.

Mohs' Hardness score is based on a 10 point scale where 10 is the most resistant, like a diamond, and 1 is easily scratched, such as Talc. Emerald gets a score of 6.5-7, meaning that it is somewhat scratch resistant and therefore suitable as a component of jewelry. Emerald gemstones should be regularly cleaned by a professional or with a soft rag and mild soap and water. Avoid ultra-sonic cleaners, solvents and harsh chemicals when cleaning your handcrafted jewelry as exposure to these elements can damage semi-precious and precious gemstones and pearls.

Learn more about all semi-precious gemstones, including amethyst, apatite, black onyx, blue topaz, carnelian, chalcedony, citrine, coral, garnet, white topaz, crystal, diamond, emerald, iolite, jade, Labradorite, moonstone, pearl, peridot, prehnite, rose quarz, ruby, sapphire, smokey topaz, tanzanite, tourmaline and tourquoise when you check out this gemstone chart.

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