05. May Birthstone - Emerald
Emerald’s value is graded on the size, color and clarity. Better quality stones are more transparent with a verdant color of bright, medium to dark green. Unlike other precious gems, most emeralds are naturally highly included, meaning they have natural fissures and internal material. Some people refer to this characteristic in emeralds as ‘a garden’ or ‘birthmarks’.
Although this quality is considered more acceptable in emeralds than other gemstones, it still holds true that the less included an emerald is, the more valuable it is. It is because of these flaws that emeralds are graded by eye and not using a jeweler’s loop to magnify it as is done with diamonds. The most valuable and expensive emeralds have no visible inclusions and are graded flawless.
Because of the included nature of emeralds, they are traditionally treated with oil during the lapidary process, a treatment that has been used for centuries and is considered largely accepted in the gem trade. This oil helps improve the gem's clarity by smoothing out the fissures and inclusions, but it makes them more fragile to sharp blows and high heat.
Emerald jewelry should never be cleaned with an ultrasonic or commercial jewelry cleaner, steam or soap which could dry out the oils. The best way to clean emerald jewelry is with cool water and a soft brush or cloth.
The word "emerald" originated from the Sanskrit word 'marakata' which evolved through many languages, including the Latin, ‘smaragdus’ and Greek, ‘smaragdos’ eventually to the Old French 'esmeralde', all meaning green gemstone.<
The earliest emeralds were found in Egypt where the pharaohs exhausted the mines near the Red Sea known as the Cleopatra Mines between 3000 and 1500 B.C. Emeralds are now found in Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America.
Besides being important as royal stones to many cultures, emeralds have also been important to many religions as well. The green gem is a holy stone for the Incas and Aztecs. In India, the holy scriptures of the Hindu, the Vedas, claim that emeralds bring good luck and enhance well being. The Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus, used the emerald as a talisman to represent faith, fertility, goodness and kindness.
Gemstone lore holds that emeralds are worn to promote healing and enhance love and contentment. Some believe that these stones will enhance clairvoyance and improve memory, intelligence, and patience.