May’s Birthstone: Emerald Spring Dreaming

If my mother hadn’t been in such a nesting mood and decided to wash walls 10 days before she was due to deliver me, I would have been born in May, not April. As a result, my birthstone would have been emerald, not diamond.

I’ve been green with envy my whole life toward those born in May.

ABOVE: This beautiful 1.14 ct square emerald cut Brazilian emerald shows a hint of the “gardens” for which emeralds are so well known. They hardly take away from the purity of the color and the excellence of the cut. Photo Mia Dixon, courtesy Pala International.

Emeralds are the perfect gemstone to announce spring. The color says green and growing things, hope reborn. They even have their own “gardens” in them. That’s probably the most poetic term ever coined to describe the stuff in emeralds, meaning all the inclusions and fractures. Because many emeralds are ferociously included.

That can be a letdown, as any emerald lover knows. (Raising my hand, here!) Truly beautiful emeralds are often hard to find. (Unless you are photographer Mia Dixon with access to the extraordinary gemstones at Pala International.) In addition to the “gardens,” the color, at least in the affordable range for most of us, can be, to say the least, disappointing. Nothing to inspire excitement if emeralds are your birthstone.

Emeralds are not always faceted. In fact, sometimes the depth of their color is best shown in cabochons, like the .39 ct emerald set in this 22k yellow gold ring. The lushness of the color all but shouts “spring!” Design by Michael Endlich, Photo by Sarah Francis, courtesy Pavé Fine Jewelry.

Emeralds are not always faceted. In fact, sometimes the depth of their color is best shown in cabochons, like the .39 ct emerald set in this 22k yellow gold ring. The lushness of the color all but shouts “spring!” Design by Michael Endlich, Photo by Sarah Francis, courtesy Pavé Fine Jewelry.

However, since my first emerald sighting, I’ve had the chance to see truly breathtakingly spectacular emeralds, including some of the early stones from Colombia that had lain drowned in the Caribbean for hundreds of years. “Wow!” doesn’t begin to cover it. So emeralds truly do deserve their place among the big five gemstones (emeralds, rubies, sapphires, diamonds, and pearls).

We’re also lucky that, since I saw my first emeralds, new mines have opened up, making some lovely, bright, colorful, and clean stones available. Smaller sizes are even priced within range for those of us who have coveted our own emeralds all our lives.

Just remember when thinking emeralds, it’s all about the color, the brightness, and the quality of the cut, because it’s the cut that shows off that color and gives emeralds their brightness. For those lucky enough to have mothers who delivered in this fair month, enjoy your lovely stone!


Sharon Elaine Thompson is a GG and FGA who has been writing about gemstones and jewelry for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 1987. She also writes a line of birthstone romance novels under the name Liz Hartley.


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