Emerald, the green variety of beryl, is the birthstone for those born in the month of May. Just as the green of spring represents life and rebirth to us, emerald’s green stood for fertility and rebirth to the ancient Egyptians. As emerald grew in popularity, so did the beliefs that accompanied it. Some thought emerald, when held under the tongue, would show them the future. Others thought wearing one would strengthen the memory (oh, if it were only that simple!), make one more eloquent or help to avoid evil spells. Emeralds were also often used as antidotes for poisons and to prevent epilepsy in children. Today, most of us simply believe they make us feel more beautiful and privileged!
The first emerald mines were most likely in southern Egypt. Emeralds were so coveted that these mines continued to produce stones into the 1700’s, even though the finds were small and of mediocre quality. T oday, Columbia is best known as the world’s leading source of high-quality emeralds. While emeralds used in jewelry usually range from melee sizes to around four carats, much larger stones have been found. The Devonshire emerald, a Columbian specimen, weighs 1,384 carats, while a very unusual carved vase of emerald, found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, weighs in an astounding 2,681 carats.
This prestigious form of green beryl gets its color from traces of chrome and vanadium that enter the colorless beryl as it forms. Though emerald has a hardness of 7 1/2 to 8, these trace minerals cause it to be brittle. For this reason, an emerald should ideally be afforded some degree of protection in its mounting, as well as discretionary wear. By the way, other members of the beryl family include aquamarine, morganite (pink) and golden beryl.
Come on in and see us here at URBAN JEWELERS. We have all of these stones, plus so many more, to show you!