Precious and Symbolic — Emerald, May’s Birthstone

The most popular green gemstone in the world is the official birthstone for May (both in the traditional and modern list). Emerald, a cardinal gem, is regarded as a symbol of rebirth just like the season of spring in full bloom in the month of May. This precious stone from the Beryl mineral family is also listed as a traditional wedding anniversary gift to celebrate a couple’s 20th and 35th year of marriage.

emerald birthstone pendant

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

History and Symbolism

Rare and elegant, Emerald overflows with symbolism. Its history as a highly-valued gemstone dates back to ancient Egypt. Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of the Ptolemaic dynasty, was known for her fascination with this colored gem. The unique and rich color of the stone has enthralled not only the famous Queen of Egypt, but also many populations and cultures around the world. Fertility and immortality, growth and good fortune, rebirth and love, revealer of truths, an offering to the gods are just some of the symbolisms and myths surrounding emeralds. It is also believed by many to have healing and rejuvenating properties.

emerald gemstone ring

Image by Steven Yu from Pixabay

Precious Stone

Emeralds are classified as one of the four main precious stones; along with rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. The value of these gems are often determined by their rarity and, ultimately, by the beauty of their color (hue, tone, & saturation). In addition, an emerald is graded based on its cut, carat, and clarity — collectively known as the 4Cs of gem quality (including color). 

Brilliantly clear emeralds are among the rarest of all gemstones. The most rare and expensive emerald gems were mined from the foothills of the Colombian Andes where the three main emerald mining spots in South America are located: Muzo, Coscuez, and Chivor; other superior quality green stones were found from other parts of the world like Brazil, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. 

As mentioned, the color of the stone is the most significant measure of quality of an emerald. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), “bluish green to pure green, with vivid color saturation and tone that’s not too dark” are the most desirable colors of this gem. Then and now, it’s the color of the emerald that largely influences its price and overall value in the market. It is important to note, though, that not all green beryl are emeralds. Gemologists have classified the pale green variety of beryl as simply ‘green beryl’ which is priced a great deal lower than emeralds.

In recent history, the famed Rockefeller Emerald is recorded to be the most expensive per-carat emerald ever sold at $5.5 Million in 2017. It is a massive 18.04-carat Colombian emerald that boasts of a rare “intense coloration coupled with remarkable transparency.”

emerald and diamond ring

The famed Rockefeller Emerald — emerald and diamond ring by Raymond Yard. Image Source:

Given the rich history and prominence of emeralds in various cultures around the globe, it comes as no surprise that the stunning May birthstone also makes a great choice of gem for engagement and wedding rings. It is unique, fashion-forward, and a truly meaningful piece of jewel.

Learn more about Emeralds from our experts at Meycauayan Jewelries.


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