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.