Emerald's Folklore and History
In May, nature springs to life here in the Northern Hemisphere. The birds chirp, the flowers bloom, fields of snow melt to green pastures, leafy trees sway in the warm breeze. So, it only seems fitting that the rich, green Emerald is the birthstone of the month of May.
Probably unsurprisingly, the emerald is considered a symbol of fertility, rebirth and love. The emerald has also been beloved by some of the world’s most ancient and sophisticated societies — from the Incas to the Egyptians and Greeks.
Famously, Cleopatra wore and adorned much of her jewelry with beautiful green emeralds. And Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, is renowned for creating the gold Crown of the Andes which featured an array of emeralds, including an extraordinary 24k emerald.
The Greeks were also fond of the gemstone, dedicating it to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Author Pliny the Elder, who died in the infamous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, even said ‘nothing greens greener’ than an emerald in his book ‘Natural History.’ In fact, the word emerald actually stems from the ancient Greek word for green gem, ‘smaragdos.’ Thanks to its incredibly rich history and cross-cultural significance, today the emerald is often revered as the stone that represents wisdom, growth, and patience.
While cultures all over the globe have revered the emerald, today you can only find it in certain mines around the world. South America, in particular Colombia, are a huge resource for the world's emeralds. Egyptian mines have long been empty, however you can still find precious emeralds in Zambia as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
How to Choose the Perfect Emerald
When it comes to grading an emerald, it is actually unique to the other gem and birthstones. Similar to diamonds, emeralds are graded based on Color, Cut, Clarity, and in the case of emeralds, Crystal — the four Cs. Natural emeralds are like other gemstones where the color is the most important factor, being rated from Very Light to Very Dark. In terms of a high-quality natural emerald, it usually has a color grading of Medium to Very Dark.
Natural emeralds very often have inclusions — which are small specs of gas, other minerals and crystals and even liquids – that the emeralds take on during their crystallization process. Because nearly all emeralds have some inclusions, jewelers actually grade the emeralds with their eye rather than magnifying the gem under a lens. If an emerald doesn’t look like it has any inclusions with the naked eye, it will be given a perfect grade. For Gurhan, however, the beauty of an emerald lies within the “gardens” inside the emerald – what some call inclusions, Gurhan sees as nature’s beauty.
When it comes to integrating emeralds into jewelry, today they are seemingly endless options. Big, saturated and clear emeralds look great on rings. Round, oiled and polished emeralds make great accents on gold bracelets. Smaller, shiny emeralds are often integrated into beautiful earrings, framing your face with striking color. And of course, you can’t go wrong with a big, beautiful emerald pendant — the perfect accessory to brighten any outfit and lie close to your heart.
While the emerald may be the birth stone for the month of May, I think we can all agree that this stone makes us all green with envy. The emerald is the perfect gift for the loved one in your life celebrating a birthday, or the mom’s in your life who will be celebrating Mother’s Day this month.