Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Birthstone: Emerald

Emerald, May's birthstone and the chosen gift of 20th and 35th wedding anniversary's, has been prized for its vivid rich green color since the time of Pharaohs in ancient Egypt.  Known as the queen of gems and the gem of most queens.  If you read my March blog post then you know about aquamarines; emerald is aqua's green sister.  Both are members of the Beryl family. 

In reference to emerald Pliny the Elder (23 A.D. to 79 A.D.) declared: "We delight in feasting our eyes on the pleasant green grasses and leaves, but the enjoyment of beholding an emerald is incomparably greater, for its green is most soothing." Pliny was one of the first to classify gemstones, including emeralds, but appreciation for emeralds was evident long before him.  Emeralds boast a long and royal history, as a jewel fit for kings and queens.  It is thought that emeralds were first used as gemstones circa 3500 B.C., during the first dynastic reigns of Egypt's kings and so, for thousands of years, Egypt was the world's main emerald source.  Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who played Queen Cleopatra on film, was equally enamored of emeralds as the Egyptian she portrayed, wearing magnificent emerald jewelry throughout her life.

It is revered as a talisman of good fortune and believed to bring health and wealth to it's owner.  Upheld as a symbol of devotion, contentment and undying love, emerald traditionally has been thought to protect and renew relationships.  A calming influence that clarifies insights, emerald enlightens the aura of those who wear it.  The ancients believed emeralds empowered their owner with foresight into the future.  To many it symbolizes rebirth and abundance of life force.  The rich green hue brings to mind the regeneration of life in spring and the hope of new possibilities. Emeralds have long been thought to be capable of soothing ones eyes.  For this reason Roman Emperor Nero is said to have watched gladiators fight through emerald slices.  

Emerald is a popular choice for brides who want to express their individuality.  In fact, Jackie Kennedy received an emerald ring from JFK.

Although known for it's distinctive color, the shades of green in which emerald is found can vary from light to dark, sometimes revealing a cool blue-green or warm yellowish-green hue.  The more vivid the color the more valuable the stone.  Another value factor is size, with emeralds over 2 carats being rare.  Perfection in emerald is among the most rare of natures treasures.  Almost all emeralds when mined from the earth have unique birthmarks that distinguish them as truly natural gemstones.  

Traditional enhancements include oil and resin, which help fill natural fractures and inclusions, thereby stabilizing the stone and making the surface fissures less visible to the eye.  Although emerald is quite durable (7.5 to 8 on Mohs Hardness Scale) and nearly as hard as sapphire and ruby, the garden of inclusions may make individual gems vulnerable to damage if handled roughly.  The enhancements are not permanent so this gemstone requires special care when wearing and cleaning.  Avoid impacts and contact with harsh chemicals, and cleanse with warm water and a soft brush or soft damp cloth.  Contact us for more information regarding special enhancements and care.

Looking for emerald jewelry?  Email us, call us at 910-256-2323 or stop by the gallery 1125- H Military Cutoff Rd., Wilmington, NC 28405.