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13th May 2024

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Whether dressed up or down, set with buttery gold, shimmering silver, or pleasing platinum, or worn as the focal point of a necklace or ring, emeralds have long captivated the world for their undeniable beauty and elegance. But emeralds aren't just beautiful. They also hold a great deal of significance- especially for those lucky enough to be born in May.

So whether you're a May baby seeking an emerald birthstone ring or want to learn more about what makes emeralds so unique, you’re in the right place! Read on to explore the green emerald, its elements, spiritual properties, and why the birthstone for May has others green with envy.

WHAT IS THE EMERALD?

Emeralds originate both from the eastern Andes in Colombia, and Bahia in Brazil, but there are mentions of it in many societies in ancient history. The emerald is a green beryl and the most famous gemstone amongst the beryl family.

The actual term 'emerald' comes from ancient Greek word, smaragdus, which translates (very) literally into 'green'.

Due to their rarity and beauty, emeralds became associated with royalty across cultures, and a prized jewel to have in jewelry collections across the years. Today, the emerald is not only the May birthstone, but also a traditional gift given for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

HISTORICAL BELIEFS ABOUT EMERALDS

While the green hues of the emerald may have initially captured interest, there was far more to emeralds than what meets the eye, and likely why emeralds have steadily held their place in history. The emerald has been featured in ancient beliefs, legends, and history over the centuries, and it has solidified its place in cultures around the world.

ANCIENT BELIEFS ABOUT THE EMERALD

Emeralds have deep connections to mysticism and have always been seen as an important gem in history thanks to their pure green color and rarity. The Incans and Aztecs viewed the emerald as a prized and sacred gem and used it in religious ceremonies.

Ancient Egyptians were the first reported people to discover the emerald and were huge fans of the stone. The Egyptians believed the stone to symbolize fertility and immortality. Perhaps this symbolism explains Cleopatra's adoration for the gem, as the emerald icon she is. She reportedly decked both herself and her palace in the lovely green hue.

Emeralds actually receive their name from the Greek, smaragdus, which translates (very) literally into 'green'. Common belief at the time positioned the emerald as the cure all for eye issues and maintained that looking at an emerald could calm the viewer. Emeralds were also linked to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty and to this day are associated with the planet of the same name. .

POPULAR LEGENDS ABOUT EMERALDS

In the middle ages, the emerald stood as one of the most magical stones. Legends claimed it could foresee the future, ward off evil spirits, and improve one's intelligence. Adventurers sought emeralds to protect them on their voyages, while monarchs adorned their crowns with these gems to symbolize wisdom and power. Even lovers exchanged emeralds to guarantee fidelity and ensure a harmonious relationship.

Legend has it that the emerald is actually one of the four precious gemstones given by God to King Soloman. This gift gave the king power over all creation. And, interestingly enough, later led to the origination of the birthstone.

THE UNIQUE MODERN HISTORY OF THE EMERALD

In the 20th century, the discovery of emerald deposits in Colombia transformed the market, positioning Colombia as the world's leading emerald source. Advancements in gemstone technology also emerged, with techniques developed to enhance the clarity and color of emeralds, making them more accessible. Moreover, Hollywood's golden era celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor popularized emeralds, embedding them into the fabric of luxury and glamor. Today, emeralds symbolize wealth, sophistication, and a deep appreciation for beauty.

WHY ARE EMERALDS THE MAY BIRTHSTONE?

Natural emeralds, with their deep green color, have long been associated with feelings of tranquility, relaxation, and peace. As the birthstone for May, the emerald symbolizes rebirth, renewal and new beginnings that come with the spring season. Their calming and loving effect make emeralds a special gem for May, and birthstone jewelry with emeralds can include rings and earrings in various cuts and clarities.

FAMOUS EMERALDS

Emeralds feature heavily in royal crowns, necklaces, and other adornments all throughout centuries as a symbol of wealth, power, and status. In more recent years, influential and celebrated women such as Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor, and Angelina Jolie have also worn emeralds.

Some of the finest emeralds in the world are now available to the public in major museums.

THE CHALK EMERALD

The most famous emerald is the Chalk Emerald, noted for its size (37.82 ct!) and stunning color and clarity.

Legends say it was originally owned by a Maharani in India and eventually found its way to Harry Winston and set into a ring, which is its current form. The Chalk Emerald is now on public viewing at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

DIADEM OF THE DUCHESS OF ANGOULEME

Other famous emeralds in the world can be seen in royal tiaras such as the Diadem of the Duchess of Angouleme. This stunning diadem features a variety of emeralds in different sizes and cuts, with a large emerald at its center. Crafted in 1819 as a gift from Louis Antoine to his wife, the Duchess of Angouleme, the Diadem passed many owners over the years. However, it is now owned by the Louvre, and is available for public viewing.

HOW TO SHOP FOR EMERALD BIRTHSTONE JEWELRY

Emeralds are a beautiful stone that can be set in countless styles, but it might be challenging to settle on the right one. Rated a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, emeralds are a generally tough gem and do well as the center stone in engagement rings. . However, emeralds do require a bit more care, so it's important to carefully select the right emerald. As with other gemstones, much of the decision will come down to color, clarity, cut, and carat weight when selecting emerald jewelry.

CONSIDER COLOR

Emeralds come in many shades of green, from deeper and light hues of greens, and even some yellow and blue undertones.Consider the three different factors of emerald color: the overall color, tone, and saturation.

When it comes to overall color, you're looking for deep green hues and an even color distribution. Tone refers to the depth of the emerald's color, and ranges in light, medium or dark. Here, emeralds with medium to moderate dark tones are considered the most valuable. Saturation refers to the purity of the emerald. Emeralds with deeper green colors are considered more saturated and therefore are more valuable.

CLARITY AND EMERALDS

Clarity goes hand-in-hand with color. Emeralds have a lot of inclusions depending on the environment where it is extracted from. These can range from tiny liquid droplets to tiny cracks, and are all part of the forming process for the gemstone. It's pretty much impossible to find an emerald that doesn't have inclusions, but the color, tone, and saturation may affect its clarity so it's important to look at it in detail before selecting a gemstone.

EMERALD CUT

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What came first, the emerald cut or emerald cut diamonds? If you guessed the emerald, you’re right!The emerald cut originally served the unique needs of emerald gemstones. This cut maximizes an emerald's qualities with its rectangular shape and step-cut facets, which run parallel to the gemstone's edges. The broader, flat planes of the step cut enhance the stone's natural color and clarity, making inclusions less apparent. However, it is possible to find round emeralds (especially at Olivia Ewing Jewelry). When shopping for an emerald, pay close attention to the symmetry of the cut—unevenness can detract from the stone's beauty and value. Also, look for a well-proportioned cut that allows for maximum light reflection, as this enhances the stone's brilliance.

CARAT WEIGHT

Like diamonds, emeralds are sold by their weight and are measured in carats. Emerald can range between 1-5 carats for jewelry, but its color and clarity will be a major factor in its overall value alongside its weight. Carat weight is perhaps the most subjective 4C, so go with your gut and choose an emerald weight that fits both your finger and your budget.

FIND YOUR DREAM EMERALD JEWELRY AT OLIVIA EWING JEWELRY

As we move towards the beautiful spring season, we're excited to see trees stand tall, the gorgeous flowers bloom, and of course, some sunshine! Whether you're looking for unique emerald jewelry for yourself or a cherished piece for a loved one, Olivia Ewing Jewelry has an amazing selection of emerald birthstone rings and engagement rings for you to choose from. So put some spring in your step and find your perfect emerald keepsake at Olivia Ewing Jewelry today.

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