Most of us know which gemstone is assigned to our birthday month, however did you know that there’s actually a lot more to your birthstone than simply representing the month you were born in?
As we enter the month of May, we’ve found ourselves thinking a lot about its birthstone - the Emerald - and the unique facts, stories and history that have all contributed to making it the treasured gemstone that it is today.
Emeralds are known to be some of the most rare and valuable gemstones to exist, and are typically mined in Brazil, Colombia, Afghanistan and Zambia. They get their name from the Greek root, ‘smaragdos’, meaning 'green gemstone’, and are thought to symbolize rebirth and love.
We know emeralds for their rich green colour, however the highest quality emeralds are of a deep grass green hue with an intense bluish cast. Often, emeralds will have subtle “birthmarks” which add to the character of the stone. These are commonly known as inclusions in diamonds and other gemstones, however those found in emeralds are often specifically referred to as “jardin”, the French word for garden, due to their resemblance to moss or fine vines. These patterns are usually quite beautiful, and emeralds without jardin are extremely rare, so it is for these reasons that their inclusions do not decrease their value as much as in other stones.
Historically, emeralds have served as a vast array of symbols, such as good luck in Chinese and Irish cultures, love and beauty in ancient Greek mythology, and fertility and rebirth in ancient Egypt. In other periods, they were used to ward off epilepsy in children, cure eye diseases, improve memory and intelligence, and enhance clairvoyance. We aren’t sure we can verify any of these claims, but we can certainly confirm that they add an unmatched beauty to any piece of jewellery!
One particularly famous emerald-lover was Cleopatra. She was so infatuated by these gemstones that she laid claim to an entire emerald mine (the earliest known emerald mine in history), and often presented royal visitors with sculptures of herself carved entirely out of emeralds! Her collection was said to be tremendous, not only adorning herself with them but also her entire palace.
Other notable famous emeralds include:
Jackie Kennedy’s iconic engagement ring from J.F. Kennedy in the 1950s
The couple took their time in finding the perfect ring to match Mrs Kennedy’s unique taste, elegance and class (and we’d say they did a fine job!).
Princess Diana’s art-deco emerald choker
Passed down to her by Queen Elizabeth II, the choker was originally crafted and given to Queen Mary in 1911 by the Ladies of India.
The Tiara Jewels of French Duchess Marie Thérèse
Crafted in 1820, this piece is in impeccable condition for its time and is currently on display at the Louvre.
Halle Berry’s one-of-a-kind engagement ring
This truly unique ring supposedly contains Phoenician codes representing her and her husband’s love story. Does it get any more romantic?
What do you think of May’s birthstone? Stay tuned for next month’s Birthstone Spotlight - Pearl and Alexandrite!