This month, our gemstone derives its name from a word meaning “the green of growing things”. Due to the color of life found in Emeralds, they are usually associated with new life and the promise of Spring. Hence, May is the perfect month to represent such an adored gemstone.
Emeralds are one of the four recognized precious gemstones found on earth. The others are diamonds, rubies, and sapphires.
Certainly, Emeralds are a source of great delight and its beauty and depth of color the envy of many. Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, was so enamored by the gemstone that she owned several mines in Egypt. Specifically to discover gemstones for her personal use. Those mines are the earliest known Emerald mines in history. Other famous ladies enchanted by the charm of the deep green stone are Elizabeth Taylor, Queen Elizabeth II, Angelina Jolie, and many other ladies associated with nobility. Even among men, the Emerald was a symbol of status and royalty. You will find impressive collections among the Russian Crown Jewels and the Irani State Treasure. Some legends even say that the Holy Grail is made out of an emerald.
One famous man who used emeralds was Nero, though his use was a little unconventional (but maybe not). It seems that Emeralds were thought to be useful for eyesight. Lapidaries (those who carved and faceted gemstones) would stare at emeralds to soothe and restore their weary eyes. Scientifically, we know that the color green is known to relieve stress and eye strain. It seems that our ancestors realized that the green of emeralds had physical and emotional benefits long before science proved it. Nero believed that emeralds were useful for eyesight. As such, he would use flat emeralds as spectacles while watching gladiators fight.
Even during the age of Hippocrates, emeralds were crushed and used to manufacture an eye lotion.
LEGENDS AND LORE OF THE EMERALD
In addition to being beneficial for eyesight, the ancients believed that emeralds had multiple useful properties. They believed it brought goodness, was a symbol of fidelity and gave the wearer eloquence of speech. Some of the other supposed benefits were:
- Adds intelligence and honesty
- Brings creativity to work
- Expresses love, adoration, and devotion
- Improves memory
- Encouraged positive emotional energy
- Is calming and balancing. Soothing.
One interesting legend involves Hernando Cortes. Supposedly the Spanish, upon discovering the New World, found rich mines of emeralds. (To this day, the best emeralds are from Columbia). They raided the mines and traded precious metals for this green goodness. In one particular instance, a ship belonging to Cortes was carrying delicately carved emeralds and larger pieces of emerald. However, the ship was lost at sea and so was its precious cargo – never to be found.
CHARACTERISTICS AND CARE
Emeralds are not as hard as diamonds. In fact, they are easily fractured and scratched. Because of this they are susceptible to chipping and cracking when they are being placed in a setting. Most emeralds have inclusions and fractures. A flawless emerald is extremely rare (and possibly synthetic). These fractures are considered part of the character of the stone. Instead of referring to these “flaws” as inclusions or fractures, gemologists refer to them as the “Jardin” of the stone. In other words, the garden of the stone.
Most emeralds are treated, filled, and polished with an oil to enhance the color and fill in the cracks. When caring for your emerald, it is important to not clean it as often because this will remove the protective oils. When you do need to clean your stone, experts recommend using temperate (not hot) water with a very mild soap (such as Woolite). It is not recommended to use jewelry cleaners, acetone, steam, or sonic cleaners. Clean only 1 to 2 times a year. It is possible to bring in your emerald and have it re-oiled after a few years.
We also recommend saving your emeralds for special occasions or remove them when washing dishes, cleaning or doing any activity that could scratch your gemstone.
Because of their somewhat delicate nature and less availability, emeralds are 2-3 times as valuable as the diamond. For an interesting article on some of the most famous emeralds, click here.
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