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For those born during the month of May, the emerald is a wonderful and beautiful birthstone that can be worn in any piece of jewelry from earrings to rings to pendants to bracelets. The stunning green color of this precious gemstone can make for a classic look or can be a great asset to a modern piece of jewelry. Emeralds are from the beryl group and are mostly found in deep shades of green, although they can be found in lighter shades of green, as well.

Emerald History

The word "emerald" is derived from the Latin word "smaragdus," which means green stone. The green color is the result of chromium impurities present during the crystallization process. It is believed that emeralds could have been found in Babylon in 4,000 BC. Although many cultures were fascinated by the breath-taking green stone, it was actually worshiped by some, and it was honored as a powerful and spiritual stone by others. The Ancient Egyptians believed it was symbolic for eternal life and a gift from the god of wisdom, and it was one of Queen Cleopatra's favorite stones. The emerald mines that were discovered in Northern Egypt were known formerly as Cleopatra's mines because of her special love of the emerald.

Others throughout history known to wear the emerald and hail it as a special stone include aristocrats in India, Charlemagne, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great. Many emeralds can be found in the jewels and crowns of the British royal monarchy throughout history, and it is a treasured stone in today's royal monarchy, as well. It is a stone that is usually associated throughout history with peacefulness and calm.

The Nature of the Stone

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The emerald is considered one of the four most precious stones. The other three are rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. The difference in the emerald is that it is the stone most likely to be included. Inclusions are cracks and chips within the body of the stone. Due to its tendency to be included, its resistance to being chipped and broken is not very good. The way you can tell that an emerald is genuine is to look at the body of the stone for inclusions and other imperfections. A natural emerald without them is very rare. Most emeralds receive treatment to make the imperfections a little less visible to the naked eye. Sometimes, special oil is used to fill in cracks and chips in order to eliminate some of these visible inclusions.

More valuable emeralds are a vivid and pure green and do not generally include shades of yellow or brown. The shade of the stone is usually determined by the place in which it is mined. For instance, some of the more yellow-green emeralds are found in Brazil, while those found in Zambia have more of a bluish-green tint. The emerald can be made into many different cuts, including round, emerald cut, oval, cushion cut, pear shaped, and marqui; the stone can even be shaped into a cabochon.

Emerald Mining

The emerald is mined in many different places across the world. Some of these countries include Russia, Colombia, Zambia, Madagascar, and Brazil. There are also newer emerald mines that have been discovered in South America, Africa, and Europe. The Mogul Emerald is one of the largest emeralds to ever be discovered. It is around 10 cm tall and weighs in at almost 218 carats.