Emerald – The May Birthstone and its Importance

Emerald – May Birthstone

Emerald, the Birthstone of people born in the month of May holds a rich and royal appearance.

“A woman of surpassing beauty”, Roman historian Dio Cassius described Cleopatra, who was known to adorn herself in Emerald jewelry. The Romans revered emeralds  as symbols of fertility and love. 

In the last two centuries, emeralds have become an emblem of wealth, style and beauty.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Vladimir tiara had enormous emerald drops. Apparently, it was the queen’s favorite!

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Aren’t those earrings stunning? 

Angelina Jolie-Pitt went to Oscars 2009 in these glamorous emerald earrings worth a staggering 2 million US dollars.

Indeed that’s a precious stone!

The May Birthstone derives its name from the Greek word- “smaragdus” which means green. The green stone is known as the ‘stone of successful love’. No wonder, the 55th Anniversary is celebrated as the ‘Emerald Anniversary’. 55 years of marriage is truly worthy of celebration. You can also use emerald as the color for the 55th wedding anniversary and buy something in the rich jewel tone.

Formation & Chemical composition of Emerald:

One molecule at a time – Emeralds are formed; in the presence of the right minerals and conditions (which by the way, is rare). That’s what makes natural emeralds so valuable. The mineral that is responsible for the creation of this gorgeous gem is called Emerald is a variety of BerylGroup, which has a chemical composition of Beryllium, Aluminium, Silicon, and oxygen. 

Mostly, large crystaled granite and metamorphic rocks are home to this gemstone. 

About Trapiche Emerald:

Trapiche, the name is derived from a grinding wheel used in Columbia, South America. In 1879, Emile Bertrand first described a trapiche emerald from Muzo, Columbia. Trapiche emerald is a rare variety of the gemstone emerald. It is characterized by a six-pointed radial pattern of ray-like spokes of dark impurities.  

Trapiche Emeralds are found in the black shale host rocks of just a few Colombian mines in the western belt of the Eastern Cordillera Basin. True trapiches form where geothermal waters meet a carbonaceous host rock. These fluids are full of chemicals that lead to gem formation, so seed crystals can form. A type of zoning occurs during mineral growth. The gem ceases to grow along the rough edges of the crystal. Instead, it grows only on the smooth faces. This leads to the equivalent growth faces that trapiche gems display. 

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Where does the rich green color in emeralds come from?


The presence of chromium in beryl generates that regal green color. It is retained in the lattice structure of the beryl. It absorbs different colors and reflects a vivid green color. 

Trace amounts of iron, sometimes, imparts a yellowish green color to the stone. Well, stones that do not have that richly saturated green color do not belong to the royal emerald family. 

Emeralds can feature many kinds of internal fractures and inclusions that look mossy/garden-like. They are referred to as ‘jardin’ which is French for garden.

On the Mohs scale, Emeralds fall in 7.5 to 8. Which means, they are softer than diamonds yet harder than most other gemstones. This demands more care in wearing than stones like ruby and sapphire. However, with proper care you can save it for generations. 

Emerald is a brittle stone, hence gets fractured easily. Estimates say that 90% or more of emeralds are fracture filled, which makes it risky to clean them ultrasonically or in steam. The best way to clean them is by using warm, soapy water and some gentle scrubbing. 


Emerald held a prime place in Mythology. People believed that Emeralds can soothe the eyes, and vision could be restored by gazing upon them. 

Oftentimes, Emerald was worn as a talisman, because of the belief that it has abilities to ward off evil spirits and possession.

The one who possessed an emerald was known to possess good luck. And that lucky guy believed he had everything right from protection of god, good fortune, mystical powers, strong memory, intelligence, to the ability to predict the future. 

Healing powers:

People believed that emeralds hold healing powers. They trusted it to be healed emotionally as well as physically. It is said that an emerald can lift depression, cure insomnia, detoxify blood, and cure ailments of the heart, eyes, pancreas, backbone, lymph nodes, intestines, kidneys and thymus. People used emeralds to alleviate complications caused by diabetes and enhance their immune system. 

Many believe that wearing an Emerald will provide will power, mental clarity and easing of stressed states. Emerald is also associated with providing love and fidelity, inspiration, wisdom, harmony, growth, patience, peace and abundance.

Emerald and Astrology:

Emeralds have also been associated with astrology. Emeralds are the star sign birthstone and planetary stone for Taurus (April 20 / May 20), and the lucky charm for Gemini (May 21 / June 20). It is also believed that the signs of the zodiac were involved in the origin of birthstones. 

Ancient astrologers believed Emeralds and other gems held many metaphysical properties.

Physical and Optical properties of Emerald:

ColorVivid green
  • Be3Al2Si6O18
Formula Mass537.50
Crystal habitMassive to well crystalline
CleavageImperfect on the [0001]
Mohs Scale hardness7.5 – 8
DiaphaneityTransparent to opaque
Specific gravityAverage 2.76
Refractive Index1.564–1.595,


To improve the appearance of emeralds, the vast majority are treated with heat and oil. These treatments enhance the color, hue, and look of the emerald.

Factors that affect the value of the Emerald:

Besides the fact that Emerald is a fairly expensive gemstone, its demand continues to remain high and rising in the national and international markets. 

There are various factors that determine the value of the May birthstone such as, the color of the stone, cut grade since a good cut maximises the visual appeal of the stone, clarity affected by the number of inclusions, and as the carat weight increases- price per carat increases too. 

Although emeralds are found all over the world, there are specific regions that produce exclusive, valuable emeralds. A premium price is paid for those that are found in Columbia, Zambia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, and a few more. 

The price of emeralds also depend on color, transparency and luster at the time of sale. When the style of your jewelry piece is exceptional and in vogue, you win a great deal!

Learn more about the fascinating world of gems and gemology at JK