Wednesday, May 7, 2014
As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. Emerald, derived from the word smaragdus, meaning green in Greek, was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C. Today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald is limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are performed regularly.
The emerald belongs to the beryl family of minerals that include aquamarine (one of March’s birthstones), heliodor, and morganite. Beryl, or beryllium aluminum silicate in chemical jargon, is a six-sided symmetrical crystal. Beryl contains beryllium, aluminum, silicon, and oxygen.
Emeralds vary in color from light to deep green. It’s commonly thought that an emerald’s color derives from the presence of chromium and/or vanadium replacing some of the aluminum in the mineral’s structure. The stone can, however, lose its color when heated strongly.
There are many myths associated with the emerald. The stone was once believed to prevent epilepsy, stop bleeding, cure dysentery and fever, and protect the wearer from panic. Its magnificent green color was said to rest and relieve the eye. To the ancient Romans, emeralds were dedicated to the goddess Venus because the green emerald symbolized the reproductive forces of nature. Early Christians saw it as a symbol of the resurrection of Christ. In the Middle Ages, emeralds were believed to hold the power to foretell the future.