by Lyn Marler
Were you born in May, the month that celebrates all things lush and green?
Even the May birthstone, the bedazzling emerald, announces that summer has arrived!
Let’s take a quick trip back in time and meet an exotic mine owner who adored emeralds. But first, we’ll explore why May’s birthstone has special meaning.
The emerald was thought to bring fertility and joy and to provide prosperity and growth to the person wearing it. It was also believed to guard against memory loss and even enhance intuition.
So, as you can see, emeralds are thought to provide many benefits. Folklore mentions these amazing powers:
- Many believed that putting an emerald under your tongue would help you see the future
- Others said emeralds can act as a truth potion, allowing you to tell whether or not your lover is staying true to you
Today, the calming color of emerald green is believed to relax and relieve stress.
Where did the symbolism of the May birthstone come from?
Initially, emeralds are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Exodus. The passages talk about a gemstone breastplate worn by the High Priest named Aaron.
The emerald was one of 12 gemstones that represented the tribes of Israel. Each gemstone had unique qualities that made the breastplate powerful. So powerful, in fact, that they said Aaron used it to communicate with God.
But, he’s not the only one to mention the benefits of emeralds…
Let’s visit Egypt.
The first known emerald discovery was actually in Egypt in 1500BCE.
Queen Cleopatra, who ruled Egypt in 30BCE to 60BCE, believed in the emerald’s powers of fertility and rebirth. In fact, Cleopatra owned EVERY mine in Egypt, and her slaves toiled in the mines. So, Cleopatra could drape herself in elaborate jewelry, from head to toe.
As I’m sure you’ve read, she was a great beauty. But, I can’t help but wonder if Cleopatra also used her stunning emeralds to attract a couple of her famous lovers… such as Julius Caesar and Mark Antony!
So, how valuable are emeralds?
Here are a few, fun facts comparing diamonds to emeralds:
1. Top quality emeralds can be worth more than diamonds per carat. But, finding a perfect emerald is actually pretty rare.
2. Emeralds aren’t as dense as diamonds, meaning they don’t weigh as much. So, a 1-carat emerald stone is larger than a 1-carat diamond.
3. High-quality emeralds are transparent – not too dark, not too light.
4. The most expensive emerald sold at auction was the Rockefeller emerald. (John D. Rockefeller originally purchased the stone in 1930, as a “nice” centerpiece for a brooch to give his wife.) In 2017, the 18.04-carat emerald sold for $5.5 million. A record-breaking $305,000 per carat!
(By the way, if you want to know why diamonds are forever, you can read about it here.)
Mad science and birthstones have something in common.
When Carroll Chatham (an American chemist) was a teenager, he tried to create synthetic diamonds using graphite and molten iron.
While experimenting in a laboratory in his garage, he caused an explosion that blew out windows in his San Francisco neighborhood.
So, Carroll changed to a safer path of growing emerald crystals. In 1935, he grew his first true emerald, which you can see at the Smithsonian Institution.
You might be surprised to learn that a synthetic emerald has the same chemical composition as a natural emerald. But, the synthetic versions are actually much harder, making them a better choice for jewelry. Both versions though can be a bit pricey.
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By Lyn Marler
Lyn Marler loves collecting unique stories to share. Lyn will tackle just about any writing project. With her light and fun style, she's always looking to put a huge smile on her reader's face. So, it's not surprising that she spends most of her time writing copy and content for lifestyle and travel. Lyn was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, but now lives in sunny Tampa, Florida.