Birthstone of the Month: May
By: Morgan Garrison
Spring, a time of rebirth and renewal. The grass is green again, flowers are coming up, and trees are growing leaves and buds. It couldn’t be more appropriate that the birthstone for May is the luscious green beryl, Emerald!
Despite the fact that there are other green gems, everyone always thinks of emeralds as the green gem. It has been associated with lush, green landscapes since antiquity. Roman Natural Philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote, “Indeed there is no stone, the colour of which is more delightful to the eye; for whereas the sight fixes itself with avidity upon the green grass and the foliage of the trees, we have all the more pleasure in looking upon the smaragdus, there being no green in existence of a more intense colour than this.” This could help explain why Ireland is called the “Emerald Isle” and Seattle is nicknamed the “Emerald City”.
Rich, saturated green color is a sign of a high quality emerald, though color can range from paler green to bluish green. Gemologists even have a tough time agreeing on how light or dark a gem can be and still be considered an emerald. Some emeralds are dyed to make them darker, but exposure to chemical solvents, like acetone, and UV rays can fade or even remove added dyes. Like emerald’s sister aquamarine, the color is determined by the kinds and amounts of ores in the earth where the crystal forms. For the most part, the finest emeralds come from Colombia. Bluish-green emeralds are mostly found in Zambia. Other important sources of emeralds are Brazil, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
At a 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, emeralds are quite a bit softer than diamonds and are more susceptible to cracking and inclusions. But this isn’t always a bad thing. Inclusions in emeralds often resemble foliage and are called “jardin” which is garden in French. When these inclusions reach the surface, the cracks can be filled with a glass, resin, polymer, wax, or oil to improve the apparent clarity of the stone. While it makes the stone look better to the naked eye, emeralds treated like this require special care. Fracture/cavity filled emeralds should not be exposed to high heat, even hot water for washing dishes can be too hot. Extreme changes in air pressure, like in an airplane cabin, can also potentially alter or remove the treatment. Regardless of whether an emerald is treated, it should always be cleaned with a soft brush or cloth and warm, not hot, water and a mild soap.
Emeralds themselves might be fragile, but they’ve been a favorite of some power-house women throughout history. Cleopatra was partial to emeralds and used them in her royal adornments. Elizabeth Taylor, who coincidentally portrayed Cleopatra on screen, also loved emeralds. Liz had a whole suite of emerald and diamond jewelry made by Bulgari, given to her by Richard Burton. She mixed and matched the pieces often and even incorporated some of them into the costumes for her movies. The necklace alone, not including the detachable pendant, sold at auction for over 6 million dollars in 2011.
Here at Fernbaugh’s, we have a wide selection of both mined and simulated emerald jewelry to fit your taste and budget. A piece from our Our “This is Us: Our Life, Our Story” collection makes a great starter birthstone piece for younger May babies. Set in sterling silver with simulated stones, this collection has a timeless look that won’t break the bank. The classic round halo style is available in a necklace, earrings, and ring as well as rose and yellow gold plated styles.
Did you know that emerald is the traditional gift for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversary? If you’re celebrating one of those milestones this year, an emerald anniversary band would make the perfect gift! For a spouse with classic taste, perhaps this white gold band with channel set round emeralds. If your spouse would like something with a little more flair, check out this stackable style anniversary band which features round emeralds and a beaded edge.
Last but certainly not least, check out this one-of-a-kind emerald and diamond bypass ring. This oval cut genuine emerald is a great one to look at for an example of jardin. This ring is perfect for the gift recipient that likes unique pieces as this is the only one we have in the store! Stop by and check this beauty out.
Thanks for sticking around for another birthstone blog post! This author was born in May so this post has been extra fun for me to write. Whether you were also born in May, or just like the color green, we’re sure to have the perfect emerald piece to complete your jewelry wardrobe.