Those born in May are fortunate enough to have one of the most beloved gems as their birthstone: Emeralds. The emerald is not only a gorgeous jewel, but an adored fixture of literature, fairytales, and folklore.
From mystical amulets to ancient talismans adorning cultural figures from Greek deities to the Incas — Emeralds are woven throughout the glistening fabric of history. It’s easy to see why everyone loves emeralds! After all, the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, enshrined herself in emeralds.
Ready to learn all about the May birthstone? Let’s explore!
There’s no disputing the magnetizing quality of a rich green emerald, but how do they get their color? As a member of the beryl mineral family, the emerald birthstone is chemically composed of aluminum, oxygen, silicon, and beryllium. The crystalline structure has six sides that allow light to enter the gemstone, bounce around the crystal layers, and reflect in a richly saturated green hue.
Why does the light reflect green? Emerald color comes from the presence of chromium in the mineral structure. The coloring varies from light to dark green, depending on how much chromium is within the gemstone.
The largest emerald mines are in Colombia, but they are also mined in Russia, United States, Australia, Brazil, and India.
The earliest depictions of emeralds were called “marakata,” which is the Sanskrit term representing “the green of growing things.” Later, when emeralds made their way into high society, the official Latin term, “smaragdus,” was used. Over time, the term evolved to “emerald” in English.
Emeralds have surfaced to become famous artifacts throughout history, but let’s look at the cultures and societies that popularized them.
The history of emerald mining stretches back to ancient Babylon in 4,000 BC. It wasn’t until 330 BC that the Queen of Egypt put a stronghold on the whole of Egyptian emerald mines. That’s right, the most powerful woman in Egypt wanted exclusive rights to all emeralds — and she got it.
Why did emeralds captivate the Queen? Cleopatra wasn’t the only one infatuated with the richly saturated, green-hued stone. The Ancient Greeks and Romans saw emeralds as a manifestation of gods and goddesses alike. From Venus to Aphrodite, emeralds embodied the purity, fertility, beauty, and love of Greek royalty.
Stepping outside of mythology, emeralds were equally as adored among the Aztecs and Incas. The Muzo Mines in Colombia essentially put South American emeralds on the global map, thanks to Spanish conquistadors who raided the mines.
Eventually, philosopher Aristotle brought emeralds into mainstream Europe and the West by writing that owning emeralds elevated one’s status, health, and wealth.
When you think of quintessential gemstones, you naturally think of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, right? That’s because these four gemstones make up the category of “precious gems.”
Many people are besotted by these glittering jewels — from pirates in search of treasure to royalty bedazzling themselves in emeralds. It’s no surprise then, that this ancient jewel is enshrined in legend and folklore.
Most popularly, people thought emeralds served as portals to see the future when placed under the tongue. One legend alleges that wearing emeralds would reveal if their lover was faithful or untrue. Additional myths include the belief that emeralds would improve speech and ward off evil spirits.
These are just a few of the legends surrounding emeralds. Now, let’s dive into the gemstone’s rich symbolism.
Emeralds have many meanings, but most prominently, they symbolize companionship and loyalty. The symbolism of emeralds trickles from its rich roots in mythology and religion.
In Greek mythology, emeralds depict love and wearing them protected couples from being unfaithful. People believed that an emerald would glow brighter when worn by a pure heart. If the shade faltered from its true green? The wearer was thought to be unfaithful.
Similar to faithfulness, emeralds depict the unconditional loyalty between friends. Some friends choose to wear emerald friendship bracelets to symbolizes their bond.
Mughal emperor and creator of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, inscribed scriptures into emerald talismans. In the Veda, the Hindu text, emeralds are described as the gem of good luck, capable of improving a person’s wellbeing. In Chinese culture, certain days of the week bring good luck to those wearing emeralds.
Emeralds are highly symbolic, but did you know that the May birthstone also has powerful healing properties? That’s right— there’s more than meets the eye with emeralds!
Wearing emeralds is believed to bestow healing upon the wearer, which is why it makes a great gift for the May birthday in your life!
Many people believe that gazing into emeralds can improve eyesight. This belief spawns from ancient Sumeria, whose people believed that wearing an emerald on the left-hand pinky minimized eye inflammation. The belief was taken even further when people crushed emeralds into a powder used to moisturize the eyes.
Emeralds are a vital cleansing stone used to rid the body of impurities and infections. Directly connecting to multiple meridians within the body, emeralds are said to minimize physical ailments like headaches, high blood pressure, fevers, and asthma.
The May birthstone has metaphysical healing properties as well. Emeralds help stave off negative energy, invite stabilizing energy, harmony, and balance.
With such rich symbolism and healing powers, it’s no wonder everyone loves emeralds! As you might expect, a gemstone this mesmerizing makes for beautiful jewelry.
Because emeralds have healing properties, many people choose to wear them in jewelry. It’s easy to see why Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana, and many more notable figures flaunted sparkling emeralds!
The May birthstone beautifully embellishes necklaces, earrings, and rings. A popular style is to wear an emerald-cut emerald ring! Not only does wearing emeralds encapsulate ancient traditions, religious symbolism, and cultural significance, but they look simply gorgeous.
For many cultures, emeralds represent rebirth. We can think of no better way to march into your next year of life than with a renewing (and radiant) emerald gemstone!SHOP FOR EMERALDS
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