May's Birthstone: The Emerald


Emeralds are a member of the beryllium family of minerals with a hardness on the Mohs scale of 7 to 8. Pure beryl has no color and it is due to traces of chromium and vanadium that the green effect so prized in emeralds comes about.

Emeralds are actually considered to be more precious than diamonds. They are more rare because the mineral, beryllium, used to form emeralds is quite rare.
Virtually all emeralds will have inclusions, bubbles or cracks, carbon fleck and possibly foreign crystals inside. They are not considered faults but more an indication of the emeralds genuineness. A completely flawless emerald has never yet been found!
The oldest emeralds come from Zimbabwe and have been around for at least 2,600 million years. Emeralds from Pakistan however are only around 9 million years old. Emeralds are found all around the world in South American, South Africa Russia and other countries. Some of the finest emeralds are found in Colombia although fine emeralds are also found in, Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Madagascar, Russia., Zambia and Zimbabwe. Particularly fine emeralds are often found in Brazil and Zimbabwe with emeralds of a darker hue. These are considered more valuable as are a much rarer find.
All emeralds are created with distinct identifiable "jardin" inclusions. These are specific to emeralds and one of the best ways of identifying a genuine emerald from a fake.

Treasured for nearly 5000 years, the emerald is rich in superstition, tradition and legend. Emeralds supposedly sooth the eyes, preserves chastity, cures dysentery, prevents epilepsy, drives away evil spirits, gives its owner the gift of eloquence and quicken intelligence as well as the heart. It's color implies harmony, love of nature and a primeval joy of life. The Incas had an emerald goddess to which they sacrificed their children. Legends tell of a Spanish settler who discovered a fine emerald embedded in the hoof of his lame horse. When it was back-tracked, it led to the rediscovery of the now famous Muzo mine which had been kept secret through years of torture of the local Indians by Spanish conquistadors trying to learn of the source of this beautiful stone. Treasure hunters seeking wrecks of Spanish galleons are occasionally rewarded by the discovery of emeralds lost by the conquistadors long ago.

Emerald is the Modern and Traditional birthstone for May. It is also listed as a birthstone for the Zodiac signs for Taurus and Cancer, as the Planetary stone for Taurus and the Talismanic stone for Gemini. Emerald is the only stone, besides Topaz, that is listed as in all of the ancient birthstone tables. This gem is suggested as an anniversary gift for the 20th and 35th anniversaries and as an alternate stone for the 55th wedding anniversary.

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