Birthstone May - Emerald

May Birthstone History

Emerald is the birthstone of May and is the traditional gift for the 20th, 35th and 55th wedding anniversary in the US.  You can view our Emerald collection here.

Emeralds have been prized for their beauty since antiquity—emerald mines existed in Egypt as early as 300 BC, and these gorgeous green gems were worn as jewellery in ancient Greece and Rome. Europeans were introduced to the beauty of emeralds in the 1500s when the Spanish invaded South America, where the Incas had prized emeralds for hundreds of years. During that same period, emeralds were cherished by the Mogul emperors of India, who believed that the gems were talismans that offered the protection of the gods.


Emerald Meaning

Like many gemstones, emeralds have a multitude of meanings stemming from different cultures and beliefs. In mythology, emerald is the stone of the goddess Venus, resulting in the association of emeralds with romance. Emeralds are said to bring passion, bliss, and unconditional love! Legend has it that wearing emeralds can give you the ability to foresee the future and see the truth. It has also been believed that emerald has the power to cure disease and protect against evil.


Emeralds’ Famous Fans

Cleopatra had a passion for emerald jewellery, as did Elizabeth Taylor, who acquired some legendary emeralds while filming Cleopatra in Rome (her lover Richard Burton bought it for her at Bulgari).

Around the same time, glamorous first lady Jackie Kennedy wore an emerald and diamond engagement ring. And an emerald engagement ring was at the centre of the twentieth century’s most legendary love story, when in 1936 King Edward VIII of England proposed to his divorced American lover, Wallis Simpson with a nineteen carat emerald ring engraved with the message “We are ours now.” The then ensuing scandal caused him to abdicate the throne, making the couple the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Today, Angelina Jolie may be emeralds’ most famous advocate. She frequently wears these gorgeous green gems on the red carpet. Other very stylish Hollywood stars, including Halle Berry, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde wear gorgeous emerald engagement rings.


Enjoy these other 20 facts about Emeralds

  1. Emerald is made from beryl just like the gemstone aquamarine.

  2. Emerald gets its green colouring from trace amounts of chromium and/or vanadium.

  3. A 1-carat emerald appears larger than a 1-carat diamond because of its lower density.

  4. Emerald measures between 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Though they are durable stones, emeralds are susceptible to chipping and cracking. This makes emeralds more expensive to set into jewellery due to the risk involved. 

  5. Colombia yields the largest amount of emeralds, contributing to more than 50 percent of all emerald production worldwide

  6. Top-quality emeralds can be worth more than diamonds on a per-carat basis.

  7. Most emeralds have some type of inclusion or imperfection, and emeralds without imperfections or inclusions are very rare. Instead of the term imperfection, dealers like to reference emerald inclusions as an internal jardin ("garden" in French).

  8. Colour, clarity, cut, and carat weight are four factors used to determine the value of an emerald. The most important of these four is colour. The best colour is vivid green or blueish-green with even saturation and no colour zoning.

  9. Valuable, high-quality emeralds are very transparent and aren't too dark or too light. Green beryl that is too light in colour may not even be considered emerald by some gemologists.

  10. An emerald pendant necklace owned by Elizabeth Taylor sold for $6.5 million in 2011, breaking down to about $280,000 paid per carat.

  11. The Duke of Devonshire Emerald is one of the largest uncut emeralds weighing 1,383.93 carats.

  12. The oldest emeralds are about 2.97 billion years old.

  13. The first known emeralds were mined in Egypt around 1500 BC.

  14. One of Cleopatra's favourite stones was emerald, and her passion for the stone was well documented.

  15. Emeralds were discovered in South America in the 16th century by the Spanish. They were used by the Incas (ancient Peru) well before this discovery.

  16. The Spanish traded emeralds across Europe and Asia for precious metals, which opened up the emerald trade to the rest of the world.

  17. According to ancient folklore, putting an emerald under your tongue would help one see into the future.

  18. Emeralds were thought to guard against memory loss and enhance intuition.

  19. Want to be sure what your lover is saying is real? Emerald was believed to act as a type of truth potion, helping decipher whether the lover's vows were true or false.

  20. The soft, calming colour of the emerald helped early lapidaries rest their eyes after an extended period of concentration. Today, emerald is still thought to relax and relieve eye strain.