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May’s Birthstone: Emerald

Emerald is May’s birthstone, a stunning gem prized by civilisations throughout history. Assigned to the month of May, it carries the green colour of spring and is a symbol of rebirth and love. At 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, it’s suitable for careful everyday wear.

Where is emerald found?

Emeralds are mined all over the world, but the finest stones are found in Colombia. The colour of emeralds vary dependent on the level of chromium or vanadium in the stone. In Colombia, the darker, pure green emeralds come from the mine at Muzo. Emeralds lighter in tone and bluish green are associated with Chivor, and yellowish green emeralds are found in Coscuez.

History of the emerald

Emeralds have enchanted the rich and aristocratic for thousands of years. Legend has it that emerald was Cleopatra’s favourite gemstone. In what is now South America, the Atahualpa emerald was stolen from the last Incan emperor, Atahualpa, by Francisco Pizarro, a conquistador. The stone was set in the Crown of the Andes, considered one of the most important examples of goldsmith work from the colonial Americas. It is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Vintage emerald jewellery, though it never went out of fashion, surged in popularity in the mid 20th century and was especially popular on brooches or cocktail rings that showed off larger stones. Celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor were particularly famed for their ostentatious wearing of the jewels – displaying their wealth and opulence.

What does emerald mean?

Emerald is a gemstone of incredible beauty and intensity, with a unique symbolism that has been recognised across cultures for centuries. The deep green colour of emeralds is associated with springtime and the renewal of life, signifying growth and hope. It is believed to represent patience, loyalty, faithfulness and true love.

In Ancient Rome, emeralds were symbols of fertility – wearing one was believed to bring blessings upon one’s marriage. In Christianity, emeralds have come to symbolise resurrection after death and eternal life through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The stone is also thought to open up psychic visions in meditative practices by calming the mind. Furthermore, its vibrant hue provides protection against negative energy and strengthens intuition when worn as jewellery or carried as a talisman.

Antique emerald jewellery

As a prominent gemstone used in jewellery, emeralds are commonly seen in rings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and more. Antique emerald rings primarily feature emerald cut, round cut, and cushion cut gemstones, often set alongside diamonds or another gemstone. This 5.2 carat emerald and diamond ring circa 1955 perfectly demonstrates how emerald and diamond can complement each other in a ring.

Emerald earrings are also popular antique items, prized for their bold and colourful appearance. These 0.90 carat emerald stud earrings set in 18k gold are a great example of how even smaller emeralds have been used to beautiful effect in jewellery.

This Mid-Century 1.91 Carat Colombian Emerald and Diamond Ballerina Ring features a mesmerising emerald at its centre, surrounded by baguette cut diamonds.

One of our favourite Art Deco emerald rings, this 0.80 Carat Colombian Emerald and Old Cut Diamond ring would be an incredible addition to anyone’s jewellery collection.

How to look after emeralds

Graded at 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, an emerald is hard enough for everyday wear but is still susceptible to damage. It is common for emeralds to be dyed or fracture filled to enhance their colour or stabilise cracks or breakages.

Emeralds should avoid exposure to heat, changes in air pressure, and harsh chemicals. Also be wary of using an ultrasonic cleaner as it could cause damage. To safely clean an emerald, gently use a cloth and warm soapy water.