There’s a perfectly good reason you May babies are making the rest of us green with envy: your birthstone is the emerald.

Emeralds are the vibrant green form of the mineral beryl, given its colour by chromium or vanadium.  They are fairly strong, rating a 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs hardness scale.  While hard, though, emeralds can be brittle.  Most emeralds have some inclusions or imperfections, which dealers call the gem’s “jardin” (French for garden).  An oil treatment is often used to fill surface cracks, improve transparency, and help prevent an emerald from chipping.

The first known emerald mines were near the Red Sea in Egypt.  Cleopatra was well known for her love of emeralds.  These days, Colombia and Zambia are the highest and second-highest producers of emeralds.

One of the “big four” gemstones, emeralds have long been popular and valuable.  One of the world’s largest emeralds is the “Mogul Emerald”, weighing in at 217 carats and stands around 10cm tall.  Dating from 1695, this emerald tablet is inscribed with a flowing floral pattern on one side and a prayer on the other.  And much more recent, who could forget Elizabeth Taylor’s amazing Bulgari set of emerald jewellery?

Elizabeth Taylor in her Bulgari emerald necklace and earrings

 

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