As part of the beryl mineral family, alongside the aquamarine and morganite gemstones, the emerald is well known for its distinctive green colour. It’s well-revered among the rich and famous, with many A-list celebrities incorporating it into statement pieces for big events and appearances.

But where did this fascination with the green gemstone begin and what makes it so significant among other precious stones?

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the emerald and what makes it deserving of a place alongside the “big four” gems (together with sapphire, ruby, and diamonds).

The History Behind the Emerald

The earliest translation of the name ‘emerald’ can be traced back to Indian mythology, with the term being translated from Sanskrit as “marakata” – a phrase which is said to mean “the green of growing things.” It’s also said to have come from the Latin term ‘smaragdus’ which is ancient Greek for ‘green’.

We can trace the mining of emeralds back to 330 BC in Egypt, but many believe the gem could be over 2.97 billion years of age

Synonymous with royalty, the emerald has a rich history that dates back to the Egyptian pharaohs. The vivid green gemstone was thought to have been favoured by Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, who used it in all her treasured, royal adornments.

Since then, it has continued to be a gem that is popular in different cultures throughout time, such as with the Romans, who believed the emerald was linked to the goddess of beauty, Venus, or the Incas who are known to have worshipped the stone.

Today, most emeralds originate from Colombia – favoured for the high quality and rich green colours they produce.

The Basic Properties of an Emerald

We can look at emeralds in relation to the Four C’s: colour, clarity, cut, and carat.

The green colour of the emerald is formed from the mineral’s chromium and vanadium. It’s the richness of the green that will often define how valuable the specific gem is, with the colour of gems ranging from light to deep green. It’s this depth of green and beauty that makes emeralds one of the most remarkable gemstones.

Pricing of emeralds can vary depending on the size of the stone, with higher carat emeralds being a lot more expensive.

The gem registers a 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, but most emeralds also include several inclusions (defined as any material that is trapped inside of another mineral when formed). This is why it qualifies as a Type 3 gemstone, which means it's more fragile, and, therefore, more susceptible to damage than other gems such as diamonds

It’s rare to possess raw, untreated emeralds, with most now treated with glass filling or oiling to take care of surface fissures or cracks.

It’s essential to take special care of emeralds, such as avoiding exposure to heat and harsh chemicals. To clean, it’s recommended to gently scrub with warm water and a soft brush.

The May Birthstone: A Powerful Symbolism of New Beginnings

The emerald is also the official birthstone for May, aligning with the star sign of Taurus. Birthstones are gemstones that have been assigned to a specific month of the year and are typically associated with different traits and legends.

With its distinctive green colour, it’s no surprise that the emerald is said to represent spring, growth, and new beginnings. Seen as the most calming of colours, the green nature of the gemstone conveys a sense of balance and tranquillity for its wearer.

With spring often associated with a time of birth and renewed energy, the emerald has also become a symbol of peace and healing.

There is also an association with the mystical, with many people in the past believing it had the power to cure illnesses and diseases and ward off any evil.

For those who have emerald as their birthstone, there are certain shared traits that you are believed to have. These include:

  • Unconditional love, loyalty, and faithfulness to loved ones
  • Stubbornness
  • Adventurous spirit
  • Imagination
  • Ability to form deep connections with people

At New Cavendish Jewellers, we’re passionate about jewellery and its origins, especially when it comes to the history of the different gemstones that we specialise in.

If you’re looking to add an emerald jewellery to your collection, or you want to treat that special someone born in May, we have an extensive range available. We also offer the option to purchase your jewellery on finance, so you can spread the cost if needed.

Speak to us if you’d like to learn more about our stock and the fantastic pieces we offer! You can also view our other jewellery collections including diamond jewellery, ruby jewellery, sapphire jewellery, semi-precious jewellery and pearl jewellery.