Welcome to Gemstones 101, a series at Takayas Custom Jewelry where we shed a little light on the amazing gemstones we love to feature in our jewelry projects. This week’s entry puts the spotlight on May’s gorgeously green birthstone – the resplendent emerald!
The most famous variety of beryl, emerald is also cousin to the lovely light blue aquamarine and dainty peach-pink morganite. Trace amounts of chromium and occasionally vanadium lend the stone its brilliant green hue, a color that has enchanted the imagination since antiquity! Known to have been mined at least as early as 1500 BCE, emeralds have figured prominently as cultural symbols the world over – from the royal treasures of queen Cleopatra and the religious rites of the Incas to the legendary jewelry suites of celebrities.
With such an ancient renown, there are a lot of ideas about what an emerald is and what it is not. Emeralds can occur in hues from warm yellow-green to dusky blue-green, and most gemologists agree that only stones with a certain richness of color deserve the prestige of being titled an emerald – but there’s debate on how light a gem can be before it becomes regular green beryl. Additionally, while Colombia is by far the world’s largest producer of emeralds today, Colombia-sourced “vanadium emeralds” as they are known in the United States are not always recognized as emeralds elsewhere in the world. With so many definitions floating around, how can an emerald lover know they’re looking for the right gemstone?
No matter how light its shade, how its color is produced, or where it comes from, all emeralds have one thing in common. Despite the fair degree of hardness that makes them more resistant to becoming scratched than stones such as quartz, emeralds almost always come with a number of inclusions and surface-breaking fissures, meaning that they are fairly susceptible to breakage. These mossy-looking jardin (French for garden) tend to be numerous enough that emeralds are graded by eye rather than by magnification, with fewer plainly visible inclusions increasing the value of the stone. With that in mind, all emerald jewelry should be treated with gentle love and care!
If you’re a May baby who enjoys the finer things in life, emerald jewelry could be a great match for you. Try them on a statement-making necklace, or showcase them on a ring to complement a beautiful nature theme! For this “Jewel of Kings”, the possibilities are endless.