The green of the spring meadows, the new leaves on the trees in May, and the new green plants that pop up from your garden… it all looks like a beautiful green emerald. And therefore the emerald is the perfect birthstone for May.
Some personal stories…
My father was a jeweler and he had a shop, together with his father and brother. One day there was not enough money to pay for his salary. And he calculated the amount the shop owed him and instead of his salary, he took an emerald necklace set in white gold.
My mother was not so pleased since you cannot eat gemstones, but she loved the necklace. And on her birthday she got a matching ring. And since that day my father invested in gems as a kind of savings account.
When my father got ill and the shop had to be sold, the money was slow (to say it politely). My parents sold a part of the emerald pieces of jewelry from the collection they gathered over the years. But one piece was not to be sold and that was that necklace, my father brought home instead of his salary.
Emerald means ‘green’ but means luck to me.
Two months before my wedding my mother died. I had to promise her that the wedding would go on. It was difficult, but we organized the wedding, I choose my dress and the matching pieces of jewelry. But one night before the wedding my brother came and brought me the emerald necklace from my mother. He asked me to wear this necklace as a memory of her. So that a piece of her could participate in this happy occasion.
I still have tears in my eyes, when I write this down and remember my mother. Jewelry is emotion and this necklace certainly is.
The four C’s
That emerald necklace symbolizes the resilience of our family, the symbol that we will survive. But also the symbol of the value of a nest egg, security for survival.
This beautiful green gemstone is together with the diamond, the sapphire, and the ruby one of thé precious gemstones. These gemstones have a high value and they can be judged according to the four C’s: color, cut, carat weight, and clarity. The intensity of the color, the quality of the cut, the weight in the carats, and the clarity of the stone determine the value.
Without an expert and the right tools, it is impossible to calculate the right value of your green treasure. Having said that! The color of this gem can range from light to deep green. The darker or deeper the green the more valuable it is. When you don’t have too much money you can purchase a very good emerald in a light green color. When you buy a light green copy ask the seller for a certificate so that you are certain you don’t buy beryl, instead of a real emerald.
A great green color can be accomplished with a high-quality cut. The glance will enlighten with high-quality facets of the cut. The shape is not important, but the quality of the cut is. The shape is a matter of taste, but the cut enlarges the quality and therefore the price of the emerald.
A minimum of inclusions needed
All the quartzes, like the emerald, have very small inclusions. They are important to know for sure that you don’t buy glass in the right color. But although the inclusions are not bad, the gemstone with fewer inclusions is more pricey than the one with a lot of inclusions. And a high-quality cut can leave as many inclusions out as possible. The hue and the saturation of the gemstone are the most important and you can get that with a great cut, that minimizes the inclusions and enlighten a beautiful color.
The last C is from ‘carat’ or size or weight. The larger the stone the higher the price, when… (OK, you know this by now) the cut is fabulous, the color is stunning and the clarity is great.
The crown of the Andes
Like every precious stone, there are beautiful examples of how it is set in special pieces of jewelry or ornament. One of the most famous stories is about the ‘crown of the Andes’.
When the Spanish conquerors and adventurers started to visit the New World or the Americas, they brought all kinds of diseases, like the flu, and also smallpox. Diseases that would kill the Indian population, not used to this type of illness. In 1590 a pandemic of smallpox broke out and many people died.
The people in the city of Popayán in Colombia were really scared and wanted to flee to the countryside. Priests convinced them to stay and advised them to pray to the Virgin Mary for help. To make a long story short… smallpox never reached Popayán and nobody died of this illness.
The priests suggested thanking the Virgin Mary for her help by donating gold and emeralds, which were abundant in this area, to make a new crone for the large statue of the Virgin Mary.
For 6 years a team of 24 goldsmiths worked on the crown. The largest emerald came from the palanquin of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa. He was a very rich emperor and owned emerald mines. The mentioned stone was 45 carats, and in total, the crown had 450 emeralds set in gold. We are not sure whether that special stone was really from Atahualpa, but the statue and the crown became very important in the celebrations for the Holy Week.
The 18 to 22 carats golden crown is 34 centimeters or 13 inches high and weighs 2.17 kilos (4.8 lbs). The Atahualpa Emerald is the largest of the 450 emeralds in the crown and measures 1.58 centimeters (0.62 inches) by 1.614 centimeters (0.635 inches). And after a closer look an expert find out that after the crown was completed in the 16th century, more pieces were added in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The owner of the crown, the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, asked the Pope for permission to sell the crown. They wanted to have more funds for charity. The permission was given in 1914, but there was no interest in buying the piece. Finally, in 1936 an American syndicate purchased the crown and they exhibited it a few times, like in the show of General Motors to introduce new Chevrolet models.
At the moment you can see the crown for yourself in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
More amazing features of the emerald
01. This typically green gemstone is a variety of the mineral beryl, that is colorless. This mineral houses in many gemstones, like aquamarine, heliodor, and morganite. The colorless beryl becomes an emerald when it comes in contact with chromium and vanadium. The green color of this gemstone comes from these elements.
02. Although the oldest copies are already about 3 billion years old, we know that Egypt was the first known mine. And we are talking now of about 1500 BC. All the Egyptian gemstone mines were owned by Cleopatra, who loved jewels, gemstones, and especially emeralds. Her palace was packed with emerald jewelry and also decorated with this gemstone.
Egyptian mummies were buried with this gemstone so that the deceased could pay the ferryman to bring him over the river to the afterlife. The only thing is that after recent research archeologists and geologists discovered that it was not emerald but peridot. Also beautiful, but not the real thing. This mistake is often made, also in Europe.
You can recognize the emeralds, that date from ancient Egypt because the color is a bit duller green than in the other parts of the world. People nowadays don’t like the duller green emeralds.
03. The way this green beauty got its name is a little complicated. It started in Greece, where this gem was called ‘smaragdus’, which means ‘green gem’. In Dutch, the name for this stone is ‘smaragd’. But Dutch is not a large language in Europe, so nobody bothered what we Dutch called the stone. Then the Latin came with the name ‘esmeraldus’ of ‘esmeralda’. The French used this ‘esmeraldus’ to name it ‘esmeraude’ and after that, the green stone was called ’emerald’ in English.
This typical green color is supposed to be restful for the eyes after a great deal of strain and stress. Quite of few gem cutters had some emeralds in their workplace and after they worked long hours cutting the precious gems, their eyes got tired. Looking at the green color of this stone gave their eyes some rest so that they could continue their work.
04. The most beautiful and famous emeralds come from Colombia, where 50% of all these gemstones are found. The most famous and most expensive one (the Gachalá Emerald) is mined here in 1967 in the Vega de San Juan mine. If you want to see this beauty, you have to go to the Smithsonian Institute in the United States
05. Normally when quartz has inclusions the value goes down. Now, all emeralds have inclusions, but in one way or another, these inclusions do not devalue this stone. The inclusions or ‘jardin’ (which means garden in French) make the gemstone unique, or one-of-a-kind. A highly saturated, which means a full green color, stone with inclusions is more expensive than a low-saturated stone with fewer inclusions.
This gemstone has a hardness of 7.4 to 8 on the scale of Moh, which means that it does not suffer scratches easily. You would expect that this gem is an excellent stone to set in a ring, but it does not! The gem has inclusions as stated above or imperfections, which makes that this stone can break with a knock against another subject. Although there are ways to protect the emerald set in a ring, it is not to be advised to use this stone for a ring.
It is the green color and the shade or hue of that green color that makes or breaks the price of the gemstone. And remember that this gemstone gets an oil treatment to improve its appearance.
Say, that you would find a highly saturated stone with no inclusions, you can ask for more money than a top AAA diamond of the same weight.
06. In the field of big, bigger, biggest you have to see the largest uncut copy, called ‘the Duke of Devonshire’. It weighs a bit less than 1400 carats and can be seen in the Natural History Museum in London. Also, this stone is mined in Colombia in the 19th century and William Cavendish (the 6th Duke of Devonshire) bought it. It is not really sure but the story goes that he got this stone from or purchased it from Emperor Don Pedro I of Brazil in 1831.
07. You might say that the emerald is popular since Cleopatra, or maybe even before that time. In Ancient Times this beautiful green gemstone was the symbol of fertility and immortality. Cleopatra needed both; either she needed a son to pass her power to or immortality to see that the moment of passing her power to her son was very far away.
Therefore she hang herself full of emeralds and decorated her palace with this gem. The foreign dignitaries received gifts with this green gem, just a way to let them know that she was the most powerful and rich woman on earth.
It is sad to say, but the emerald did not prevent her from getting killed or committing suicide (historians don’t agree on how she exactly died) when she was only 39 years old.
One of the temporary biggest fans of this green beauty was Elisabeth Taylor, who promoted this stone in her movies. But this gemstone got a new promoter in the person of Angelina Jolie.
That started when Angelina Jolie wore a pair of emerald earrings when she walked on the red carpet of the 2009 Oscars. The earrings were designed by Lorraine Schwartz and were pear-shaped drop earrings, with 115-carat Colombian emeralds. The earrings were insured for 2.5 million dollars. The matching ring weighed 65 carats and cost 1 million dollars.
08. In the temple Wat Phra Kaew on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok (Thailand) you will find an emerald, Buddha. It got its name due to the color of the statue, but it is made of jade or jasper. The statue is so ‘holy’, which means that the believers think it is made of emerald, that nobody dares or had the chance to check off which material it actually is made of.
09. It is said that this gemstone can enhance the clairvoyance of its owner. You should place this stone under your tongue and it is said that this helps to see the future. Others think that with this stone people will say the truth. The police would love this but still do not use it in their work. And elderly people should consider wearing a piece of jewelry with this gem since it works against memory loss. No guarantee from my side, though.
10. Emeralds were used in many cultures as a great talisman or amulet. It is already stated that in Ancient Times people were thought to get very rich, powerful, and eloquent by wearing this green gem. And the most practical feature (according to my view) was that this stone could predict the future.
In the past doctors in Arabia, India, and Spain used the stone to cure infections, dysentery, and when people were poisoned. And the ‘mental’ doctors and priests used it when they thought that demons took over.
When you are the lucky lady, born in May, that gets a real emerald piece of jewelry for her birthday, don’t let me know. I think I will be too jealous to even gratulate you for your birthday.
Only kidding… if it’s your birthday and you get my emerald necklace or another emerald piece of jewelry you need to have my free e-book full of information about the emerald and all the other birthstones. Let me know where I can send it to:
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