Emerald ~ May's Birthstone

Emeralds were mined by the Egyptians approximately 4,000 years ago. Cleopatra was rumored to have been a big fan of the emerald and had a large collection of emeralds which she culled from her own mine. It was 16th Century Spanish explorers who discovered that South America was a rich resource for emeralds, the largest of which they stole from the Aztecs and Incas. Unfortunately, many of the best emeralds are now sunken treasure, buried in shipwrecked Spanish galleons, at the bottom of the ocean.

The quality of the emeralds found by the Egyptians was much lower than those discovered what is now Colombia, which remains today as the source of many fine-quality emeralds. Most of the world's emeralds today are mined in Colombia, Brazil and Zambia, with some coming from mines in other countries, such as Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Brazil produces more emeralds than any other country, but Colombia dominates the trade by setting the standards for size and color. It is Colombian emeralds against which all others are judged. Rarer and sometimes more expensive than a similar-sized diamond, Colombian emeralds have a unique look, a green lightly touched with blue. Muzo, the original mine, remains the most important emerald mine in the world.

The importance of emeralds is chronicled in texts about the history of Rome. Legend has it that Nero watched the gladiators through emerald glasses. Emeralds also were held in high esteem amongst the Moguls, from in India, who presumably inscribed some of their texts onto emeralds.

Emeralds, like many other gemstones carry with them a great deal of symbolism. Some people view the emerald as a sign of rebirth and the abundance of the life force. For some, the emerald's deep green color symbolizes regeneration of life in spring and hope of new possibilities. Many ancient civilizations believed that the emerald gave its owner the power to see into the future and is considered by some as an amulet which brings with it good fortune for its owner, may assist in the recovery of lost objects, scare away devils and word off dirtiness. Ancient literature states that the son's of kings carried emeralds with them to protect them from epilepsy and some were convinced that emeralds could forestall storms, ease kidney functions, cures poisonous bites, act as an antidote against laziness and stupidity. The "powers" of the emerald hold true for many, even today. There are those who believe in its therapeutic powers and curative ability.

The value of an emerald is based on its Cut, Carat, Color and Clarity. The higher the attributes of an emerald, the higher it's assessment of rarity and value, with Colombian emeralds typically of the highest standards of quality.

Generally speaking, as to color, the deeper the green the more valuable the stone, with very light, or dark emeralds the less valuable.

Emeralds can be cut in a variety of different shapes, everything from a traditional rectangular step-cut, called an "emerald cut," to rounds, ovals, squares and cabochons.

As the carat weight of an emerald increases, so does its value. Emeralds of high quality weighing more than two carats are extremely rare and extremely expensive. A large, deep green emerald with minor blue or yellow secondary coloration that is relatively free of inclusions may cost up to tens of thousands of dollars per carat.

As to clarity, inclusions in an emerald are much like a fingerprint that gives each emerald its uniqueness as a natural gemstone. Unlike diamonds, a finely colored emerald is not significantly devalued by inclusions, but, nevertheless, the purest collectors believe that the fewer the fissures, the more valuable the emerald.

As with many gemstones, the setting of an emerald can significantly enhance the appearance of an emerald, so although the highest quality emeralds may be out of the average consumers budget, smaller stones of lesser quality can look wonderful in the right "environment."

Your emerald jewelry will be yours to treasure for many years and, may also become family heirlooms.

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