Nothing greens greener than an emerald. These words were first declared in the year 50 BC by the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, and they still ring true today. The striking green gems have been revered for centuries, and are often selected as the stone of choice for our most meaningful pieces of jewelry. May babies in particular have an excellent reason to opt for emeralds, as the precious gems are the May birthstone. Below we’ll be delving into all things emerald, from their fascinating history to contemporary emerald birthstone jewelry that we adore. Going green has never been so chic!
THE HISTORY AND SYMBOLISM OF EMERALDS
Dazzling emeralds are among the world’s most highly treasured gemstones. There have been many instances throughout history and even in modern times when emeralds have been considered more valuable than diamonds!
Emeralds have long been a symbol of rebirth, peace, vitality, loyalty, prosperity, and love. The first records of emeralds date back to 330 BC in Ancient Egypt, though some historians believe that the beryl variety has existed on earth for over 2 billion years.
Famous for their rich hue, emeralds have always been synonymous with the color green. In fact, the name emerald derives from the Greek word for green, ‘smaragdus’. Emerald has become a descriptor for the most beautiful shades of green. The lush rolling hills of Ireland have given it the nickname ‘The Emerald Isle’, while the majestic evergreens of the Pacific Northwest of America have given Seattle the title of ‘The Emerald City.’ When it comes to the actual gemstones, the deeper green an emerald is, the more valuable it will be.
The Gemstone of Royalty: How Emeralds Reached Their Iconic Status
History’s first major admirer of emeralds was the legendary Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Emeralds were said to be her favorite gemstone. Many believe that she would adorn herself in green gems from head to toe. Cleopatra claimed ownership over all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign, and buried herself with emeralds to bring her good fortune in the afterlife. Many pharaohs carried on the tradition, as emeralds were considered a symbol of protection in Ancient Egypt.
Emeralds were also highly coveted across the Mediterranean in Ancient Rome. The locals believed the vibrant green hue was a symbol of fertility, and would often give emeralds to new wives as gifts. Romans also associated emeralds with Venus, the goddess of love, making emeralds a popular gem among couples. Ancient Hindus also believed that emeralds were a powerful love stone, as green was the color linked to the heart chakra.
As time went on, emeralds were linked to foresight, health, and clarity. Medieval Europeans believed that looking into an emerald would allow you to see the future, or at least improve your eyesight. The latter theory does have some merit. Studies have proved that the color green relieves eye strain, so admiring an emerald can provide temporary relief to tired eyes!
Central America is another region that has always had strong ties to emeralds. The Mayans, Aztecs, and Muzo civilizations considered the gem to be sacred. Colombia has always been one of the world’s most important emerald mining regions, and emeralds are still the country’s national gemstone. The Muzo people were so talented at concealing their emerald reserves that it took Spanish conquistadors almost 20 years to find them!
Emeralds have retained their prestigious status over the centuries and remain one of the world’s most cherished gems. They were favored by style icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Jackie Kennedy in the 20th century, and are still adored by modern trendsetters and gemstone enthusiasts today.
With a hardness level of 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, emeralds are considered strong and durable gemstones. They are resistant to scratches, but regular wear can cause emeralds to lose some of their shine.
Keep your emerald jewelry sparkling by cleaning it with a mixture of mild soap and warm water. Make sure you don’t let your pieces soak for too long. Dry them completely with a microfibre towel before wearing them or storing them away. Avoid cleaning with steam, chemicals, or high heat, as these methods can cause fractures.
EMERALD BIRTHSTONE JEWELRY
Those born in May have the perfect excuse to treat themselves to emerald birthstone jewelry! The beautiful gemstones are also the traditional 20th wedding anniversary gift, so those who don’t have ties to May may still find an opportunity to wear emerald jewelry.
Here are some of our favorite May birthstone pieces!
Classic hoops are given a luxurious upgrade with dangling round emeralds. These chic gold earrings are perfect for everyday wear.
Embrace the harmonious curves of this gold necklace while adding a subtle sparkle to your outfit with this emerald and crystal half moon necklace.
Classic emeralds are given a contemporary twist with this gold ring’s chain link band. This chic minimalist ring will look amazing alone or alongside other gold styles.
This gold chain beautifully complements the rich central emerald in this delicate bracelet. This casual design is perfect for adding a subtle pop of color to casual outfits.
Whether you’re treating yourself or spoiling a loved one,
discover our full range of May birthstone jewelry here!
Writer: Maria Polansky