If you’re still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don’t really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.
May’s Birthstone: Emerald
Birthstone Properties: Symbolizes serenity and peace of mind.
Alternative Birthstone: Sapphire
Emerald is the birthstone for May and also the anniversary gemstone for the 20th and 35th years of marriage. Some people believe wearing an emerald brings wisdom, growth…patience. It is perhaps this last attribute that may explain why a gift of emerald for an anniversary — or any occasion — is symbolic of love and fidelity.
All Eyes on Emeralds
Emeralds were once prescribed for eye diseases because the green color was believed to be soothing to the eyes. Early stone cutters kept emeralds at their tables to gaze upon as a way to give their eyes a break. Even 21st Century color specialists agree that green is soothing, restful, and relaxing for the eyes.
Today’s versatile emeralds continue to be “easy on the eyes,” used in earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other body adornment.
The Color of Spring
An emerald shines like green lightning, filling us with the same wonder as the civilizations that came before us. Ancient Egyptians mined emeralds in the eastern desert region 2,000 years before Cleopatra’s birth, yet today recent finds in North Carolina may provide a new source for quality emeralds in the U.S. Colombia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Russia are where most emeralds are mined in the 21st Century.
May’s birthstone seems perfectly suited to the rites of Spring, matching the colors of the season with its own bottomless green. In fact, the Egyptians engraved emeralds with symbols for Spring foliage to represent eternal youth, and then buried the jewels with their dead. Elsewhere in the ancient world, the Romans associated emeralds with fertility and the rebirth brought about each Spring. Nero, it’s said, watched the gladiators through emerald glasses
The Incas worshiped emeralds…as long as they could. In the 1500’s, they were invaded by Spanish Conquistadors who stole their gemstones and pillaged their mines. As a result, many of the world’s most magnificent emeralds were lost at the bottom of the sea inside shipwrecked Spanish galleons.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
The word “emerald” is a variation of the Greek word “smaragdos,” which means “green stone”…perfectly appropriate for a gemstone that is, in fact, the green variety of the mineral beryl. Emeralds range from strong bluish-green to green hues, although some emeralds have a slightly yellowish green. If the hue is too yellow…or too blue…it loses its “emerald” status and is simply a different variety of beryl.
Colombian emeralds are generally agreed to be among the most beautiful gemstones in the world, with a grass-green coloring highlighted by a touch of blue.
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