The emerald is one of the most coveted and celebrated gemstones. It's also May's birthstone! Read on to learn more about this lushly-colored gem - and find that perfect birthday gift.
Emeralds are a variety of beryl, a mineral species that also includes aquamarine. They are an ancient gem; the oldest emeralds are over a billion years old. Unlike other gems, they are often found with natural inclusions of rock salt or natural gas.
Emerald was a cherished gem in ancient times. The ancient Egyptians highly prized emeralds, and Cleopatra was known to have collected them. During her reign, she claimed ownership of all the emerald mines in Egypt. Pliny the Elder, a famous naturalist of Ancient Rome, recommended looking at emeralds as a relief for eye strain. The name of the gem comes from the Ancient Greek "smaragdus", meaning "green".
When compared to other green gems such as tourmaline and peridot, emerald stands above the rest. Its vibrant green has enchanted wearers for generations. In South America, emeralds were being used in royal jewelry for hundreds of years when the Spanish invaded. The Spanish, trading gemstones for precious metals, introduced Europe to the beauty of the emerald.
The emerald is believed by many to have powerful effects on the body and mind. It was once believed that the wearer of an emerald could see the future. Emeralds were also thought to have cured diseases like cholera, malaria, stomachache, and epilepsy. They were also thought to have had truth-telling powers and could soothe panic and stress.
Along with being the May birthstone, Emerald is also the stone for the twentieth and 35th wedding anniversaries. It's a symbol of truthfulness and loyalty. Its popularity as a gemstone has not died down for hundreds of years. Some famous emeralds include Elizabeth Taylor's emerald pendant that sold for over $11 million, the 1,383 carat Devonshire emerald mined in Colombia, and the 17th-century Spanish Inquisition necklace, an emerald and diamond necklace made in India.