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May Birthstone: Emerald

May Birthstone

Emerald

Astrological Stone for Gemini (May 22 – June 21)

20th and 35th Anniversary

SKD Emerald Ring

 Steven Kretchmer’s one of a kind Mokume gane ring featuring a 4.24ct Muzo emerald.

 According to Indian mythology, the name emerald was first translated from Sanskrit as “marakata,” meaning “the green of growing things.”  Pliny the Elder wrote about the emerald in 50 A.D. describing it as “Nothing greens greener.”

 The oldest known emerald mines are in Egypt and the ancient Egyptians believed the emerald stood for fertility and rebirth, making it an appropriate birth stone for May as well as the gem stone for Venus.  In Ancient Rome, Nero supposedly watched gladiator fights through a large transparent emerald as he found the color to be calming. In some legends of King Arthur, the Holy Grail is described as being fashioned from an emerald. In China, Thursday was the day for wearing green and emeralds for good luck. However, various countries in the East and West vary in opinion on which day the emerald would bring good luck.

In various languages, it was stated that emeralds enable people to foretell future events if put on the tongue or worn on the left side of the body. Emeralds were believed to reveal what was true or false and were said to be a sure antidote for enchantments and spells. They were also to give eloquence in speech and make people more intelligent and honest. It is believed that emeralds contain the energy that is necessary to bring creative form to your work.

The Spanish conquistadors fought brutal wars with South American tribes like the Muzo to learn the secret locations of their mines.

 Atocha Emerald Cross

Photo by Robert Weldon, courtesy of Eileen Weatherbee

 This 22K yellow gold and emerald cross represents the most prized of all artefacts from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha shipwreck. Treasure hunter Mel Fisher discovered this rarity in a hull full of gold and silver coins and bars, emerald crystals and jewelry in the 1980s. The Atocha, a Spanish Galleon en route from Colombia in 1622, smashed into the reefs off of the Florida Keys carrying its treasure.

 Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl.  The most desirable emerald colors are bluish green to green, with strong to vivid saturation and medium to dark tone.

  •  The most-prized emeralds are highly transparent.
  • Their color is evenly distributed, with no eye-visible color zoning.
  • If the hue is too yellowish, too bluish, or the tone is not dark enough, the stone is not emerald, but a different variety of beryl, and its value drops accordingly.

 Emerald has a Mohe’s hardness of 7.5-8.  This variety of beryl often has fractures and included crystals.  The fractures are often hidden with a treatment called oiling.  This uses an oil, often cedar wood oil or a synthetic resin that has close to the same refractive index as the emerald, to hide the fractures.  This is a treatment that has gone on for centuries.  It is due to the fractures in emerald that it is a more fragile beryl than other varieties.

Emerald Box

Photo source unknown.

From the Khalili collection; a box made of gold and carved emeralds, with a small diamond on top. From the reign of Shah Jahan, circa 1635, in the Age of the Mughals.

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