May day! May day! After the long winter of 2013-14, we need to be rescued by the warmth of spring and the sweet flashes of green. Whether it’s the first leaves emerging on the trees or a bit of emerald sparkling on your finger, the May birthstone bursts with that bit of life we all need at the start of a new season.
Much like the March birthstone, aquamarine, the emerald comes from the mineral family beryl. It gets its green from trace amounts of the chemical element chromium and sometimes from vanadium. The most desirable shades of this ancient stone, whose Egyptian mines date to 3500 BC, are bluish green to a pure, vivid green. It’s important to keep your emerald safe as it is a softer stone that registers at a 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs 10-point hardness scale. Take emerald jewelry off for vigorous activities. Too much bumping around will literally wear the facets off the stone and when cleaning is required, gently brush over your emerald jewelry using a soft bristle toothbrush dipped in a mild mixture of mostly warm water with a small touch of dish soap. No chemical soaks or sonic cleaning for this lovely green gem!
Did You Know?
One of the largest emeralds in the world is the Gachalá Emerald, weighing in at 858 carats. This green giant was found at La Vega de San Juan mine in Gachalá, Colombia, in 1967. Mined since the time of the Incas in what is now Colombia, the country’s emeralds constitute 50-95% of the world production, the numbers depending on the year, source and emeralds grade.