Emeralds are May’s Birthstone

Emerald is the official birthstone for the month of May.  Emerald is named after the Greek word “smaragados”, meaning green stone.  Emeralds were discovered so long ago–thousands and thousands of years ago–that the details of their discovery are unknown. While no definitive records exist, Cleopatra’s emerald mines, in upper Egypt east of Aswan, are believed to have been worked as early as 2000 B.C. Even more astounding is the fact that emeralds are believed to be the first gems traded in markets in Babylon around 4000 B.C., adding a couple thousand years more to emerald’s long, rich history.

Emerald is a variety of the mineral Beryl.  Beryl in its purest form is colorless.  When chromium oxide is present, the result is emerald.  Emerald ranks a 7.5-8 on Mohs’ hardness scale but is not a very tough gemstone.  Because of this, the emerald cut was designed specifically for emeralds.  Due to their lack of toughness, the corners of the rectangular shape were cut off to prevent breakage. Jardin, the French word for “garden,” is the name used in the industry to refer to inclusions in emeralds. Because of the nature of this type III gemstone, it is accepted that emeralds are commonly included. Rather than detracting from a stone’s value, those jardin are viewed as an easy way to distinguish a natural emerald from a synthetic. It is also understood that nearly all emeralds have been treated to improve their clarity.

To insure lifelong beauty in an emerald, simply clean it with cool water using a soft brush.  Wipe clean with a soft cloth.