In a previous post, we covered the different birthstones related to each of the twelve months. If you haven’t checked it out, please do.
The month of May is represented by the emerald. This gemstone lends itself to wonderful pieces of jewelry, and also works well as a unique namesake.
So what is an emerald? Where did it come from? And how did it become the official birthstone of May?
According to the American Gem Society, the emerald represents rebirth, which is appropriate for the month, which happens to fall right in the middle of the spring season. The rich green color is also very spring and can complement other bright colors, its vibrant hue might be the reason the emerald was chosen to be May’s birthstone. Remember, much of the meaning and purpose behind gemstones are relative to the time and culture.
Emeralds are usually mined from countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia.
And if you can believe it, according to CNN, the emerald is so rare that it’s actually more valuable than the diamond, because the scarcity of the emerald continues to drive up the price. In 2018, a mine in Zambia found the second largest emerald ever discovered. Coming in at more than 5,000 carats and being named, "Inkalamu," which means lion. The first time an emerald of a significant size was found, was in 2010, and was more than 6,000 carats. The gemologists who discovered it named it, “the elephant” in the local Zambia Bemba language.
The International Gem Society credits the Greeks with the word emerald, which they say is derived from the word, smaragdus, which also means green gemstone. The same article cites that the emerald has been a part of royal history since its discovery. This is due in part to the deep belief that was started during the time of Cleopatra. In her time, Egyptians believed that emeralds represented wealth, fertility, and immortality.
In a more religious sense, the emerald is connected to the Twelve Apostles, because the stone appears in the New Testament Book of Revelation. According to the interpretation of the text, the emerald represents the strength of faith. This Biblical reference is highly debated, but it just shows that the meaning of the emerald has evolved throughout the ages.
It’s also been reported that emeralds were used by different cultures to ward off different kinds of illnesses and/or bad spells. This is because the emerald was thought to have the power to discover lies and to break spells. Many of these superstitions are still practiced today.
On the Mohs Scale the emerald scores an 8, which means that it is strong (not as strong as a diamond), but still durable enough. However, The Gem Society cautions against wearing emeralds to do manual labor or work that could cause an impact to the stone itself because emeralds naturally have many inclusions. Inclusions are minerals that are trapped within another mineral. And while this makes any stone look more unique, it also tends to weaken the stone, and thus it’s capacity to withstand too many impacts or rough handling.
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