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Green With Emerald, May's Birthstone

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This month signifies the beginning of warmer weather, week-long vacations, and cookouts in the backyard. What better way to represent it than the beautiful green emerald? This has long been a favorite stone of mine, and while it isn't my birthstone, I love the several emerald pieces that I own and I wear them often. The stone is an interesting and beautiful one and also has a bit of cool history behind it.

The History of the Emerald

The word "emerald" is a derivative of the Greek word "smaragdos," which means "green." The stone represents things that are the greenest of green. Although it is carved from jadeite, the Emerald Buddha is one of Thailand's most sacred icons. The Emerald Isle is another name for Ireland, which is full of beautiful green pastures. Seattle, often referred to as the Emerald City, gets its nickname because of its lush green forests. Green is a color that stands for springtime, life, passion to live, and new growth.

According to legend, King Solomon received four precious stones from God, one of which was the emerald. These stones were thought to have given him power over all of creation. The first documented emerald stones mined were found in Egypt around 330 B.C., and they continued to be mined there until the 18th century. Cleopatra was known to wear many emeralds in her royal crown and also in her jewelry. When the Spanish invaded the New World in the 1500s, they found and took a wealth of emeralds in the land that is now Colombia. The Incas had been using emeralds in religious ceremonies for quite some time, but the Spanish used the stones to trade for precious metals such as gold and silver, as they treasured those more than gemstones. These trades helped the Asian and European royalty discover the beauty and importance of the magnificent green stone.

According to many legends, people believed that if you put an emerald under your tongue, you would be able to see into the future. They also believed that it protected them from evil and revealed when a lover cheated. People also believed that it could cure malaria and cholera.

The Color of the Emerald

The emerald is a member of the beryl family. The most well-known members of the beryl family are the red ruby, the blue sapphire, and the green emerald. Pure beryl is clear, but chromium and vanadium within the stone cause it to become green. If iron is present, depending on the state of oxidation, the stone will appear with a bluish tint or more of a yellow-green tint. In order to be classified as an emerald, the stone must have a particular level of saturation and light tone. In the U.S., if the stone doesn't meet the requirements of an emerald, it is simply referred to as green beryl. If the stone is a greenish-blue color, it is an aquamarine. If it is greenish-yellow, it is a heliodor. If a stone is classified as an emerald, it has a higher value. In other countries around the world, all green beryl, regardless of the tint, is referred to as an emerald.

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Emerald Mines

Although Zambia has been a larger producer of the beautiful green stones in more recent years, fine emeralds are most commonly mined in Colombia. Throughout history, other major producers of emeralds include Austria and Egypt. Other important emerald mines are located in South Africa, Russia, China, Brazil, Afghanistan, Mozambique, and in North Carolina in the U.S.