Emerald is the gemstone for May (and my birthstone) so I’m planning to indulge myself and make a piece of silver jewellery with velvety emeralds. Not quite sure what yet, so watch this space.
Apparently the name comes from the Greek “Smaragdos”, meaning green stone. It is part of the beryl family and ranges in colour from light to a deep green depending on how much chromium oxide and vanadium it contains. Most stones contain inclusions which occur naturally during their growth as crystals. Throughout history, the emerald’s green colour is said to have “entranced humankind.” Its colour is a symbol of new life and the promise of spring, which is why it is the birthstone of May.
The Ancient Romans dedicated the emerald to the goddess of love, Venus thinking it represented the reproductive forces of nature. Early Christians used it as a symbol of the resurrection of Christ and in the Middle Ages it was thought to have the power to foretell the future. Throughout the ages it has been used as a cure for epilepsy, to stop bleeding, protect from panic, as a treatment for dysentery and to protect seafarers from drowning. I’m not sure about any of the above, I just know that I love its colour and sparkle! Records show that the stone was known and sold in markets in Babylon as early as 4000 BC and today a fine emerald may be two to three times as valuable as a diamond.
Spanish Flamenco dancer Anita Delgado, who became Princess in Kapurthala, owned a beautiful necklace with emeralds and diamonds, previously an adornment for the Maharaja’s favourite elephant and was valued at £100,000. Emeralds have a hardness of 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale (based on the relative ease or difficulty with which one mineral can be scratched by another) which means that it is a fairly hard stone and is suitable for setting in rings. Not only is emerald the birthstone for May it is also the anniversary gemstone for 20 years (sadly I’d forgotten that a few years ago!)
For my top tips on caring for your Emerald jewellery, simply click here, or for all my tips, click "Jewellery Care" in the Category section (right) of this blog page.
This blog post was written and researched by Kate Buchanan-Dunne of Manor House Designs, creator of "beautiful bespoke silver jewellery" in her Shropshire workshop.
Kate Buchanan-Dunne is an artist, designer and silversmith based in Shropshire.