May Birthstone: Emerald
Color: Bluish Green - Green
Mohs Hardness: 7.5 – 8 (Great for everyday wear… With care!!)
Happy May! It is officially Emerald Month! I have always had a special relationship with emeralds. Not
only was I born in May, making emerald my birthstone, but as a child I watched the Wizard of Oz an unhealthy number of times turning emeralds and the Emerald City into the ultimate goal for success.
Emeralds have been used in jewelry dating back to 330 B.C. and have been a favorite gemstone of many famous women from Cleopatra to Elizabeth Taylor. For centuries, emeralds have captured attention and affection with their captivating color, conjuring images in our heads of lush green meadows, rolling fields and thick jungles, opulence, and an endless bounty of growth. Green signifies new beginnings and opportunity. It is a perfect stone for a springtime month of rebirth, like May!
The name Emerald comes from the ancient Greek word for green, “smaragdus” (I think we can all hear that… Emerald… Smaragdus… Emerald… Smaragdus…)...
The color comes from trace levels of chromium, vanadium, and iron, with the presence of the elements helping gemologists determine the location of the specimen.
Emerald is the most well known member of the Beryl family of gemstones, which also includes Aquamarine and Morganite, as well as yellow beryl, Heliodor, green-hued beryl of lower saturation, Green Beryl, and colorless beryl, Goshenite.
The most notable emeralds in the world come from the Muzo district in Colombia. There, the Incas used emeralds in their jewelry and religious ceremonies, believing emeralds were derived directly from the gods. Spanish explorers plundered many emeralds during their invasions of the “New World”, bringing the finest emeralds ever seen back to Europe by the boatful.
WHAT TO LOVE ABOUT EMERALDS
As with so many colored stones, the most important aspect to consider when buying an Emerald is its COLOR! The ideal emerald ranges from a bluish green to a pure green without dark tonal areas. A beautiful emerald has high transparency and even coloration.
Unlike many other gemstones, the inclusions in emeralds are not only forgiven, but they are celebrated as evidence of the stone's genuineness. The finest examples of emerald inclusions are called jardin, French for garden.
My favorite emerald “phenomenon” can be seen in a very rare type of emerald. “Trapiche” emeralds
feature a dark six-spoke pattern of black carbon that fill the emerald crystal junctions. In a single crystal, which grows in a hexagonal form, the emerald is clearly divided into 6 trapezoidal sections. Super weird and super beautiful!
Ok... Let's be honest... Emeralds have a pretty bad reputation. It is common industry practice to infuse emeralds with colorless substances to improve clarity. In 1993, Diane Sawyer did an exposé about emeralds and retailers who were not disclosing that their emeralds were treated. It is incredibly important to disclose treatments because it may affect how you care for a piece of jewelry (I will get to that in a bit), but I want to state that treatment is NOT necessarily a bad thing... This is why:
Light travels at different speeds through different materials. When you have a transparent or translucent material, like an emerald, which has fractures, the emerald material is interrupted by pockets of air. Light travels at a different speed through emerald than it does through air and these slight changes cause blurriness to our eye. By injecting these pockets with a transparent material, light can travel through the stone at a more consistent speed, improving the appearance of the stone
Treating emeralds with colorless substances can make an emerald much more beautiful, but it is necessary to know that the emerald is treated. So always ASK your retailer and stick to the following care guidelines...
Because of the presence of inclusions and (often) filler substances, emeralds require a bit more care and consideration when being handled than many of their gemstone counterparts.
A few things to keep in mind when caring for your emeralds:
• Do not use ultrasonic cleaning on emeralds. This can cause fillers to loosen and come out of the stone.
• Avoid sudden temperature changes. Inclusions can be temperamental (ha!), changing state from solid to liquid and potentially rupturing the stone with changes in heat.
• Avoid contact with cosmetics, hairspray, perfume or household chemicals. Because of the often fractured surface of emeralds, contact with these substances can impregnate and potentially discolor your emerald.
To clean: Gently wipe with a cloth and mild warm soapy water.
With proper care, an emerald can survive years, if not generations, of wear and love. Celebrate May and contact Original Eve to see about getting your very own Emerald and unique design!