May’s Birthstone: Emeralds, Myth and Magic
Emeralds’ long history and rich color mean that over the years, they’ve accumulated a wealth of lore and legend. Can the intense green mean anything other than spring, rebirth, and fertility? Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that it was chosen as the birthstone for May. It’s a month of almost overwhelming green in the season of fresh starts.
ABOVE: This 3.08 ct round brilliant cut emerald comes from the classic source for emeralds: Colombia. Photo by Mia Dixon, courtesy Pala International.
But emeralds have been alleged to have a number of healing properties, too. They were supposed to be an antidote for poisoning, though whether simply looking at an emerald provided the cure or whether it had to be ground and taken internally, I don’t know. If one had to be ground up and drunk, considering the rarity of the stones and the expense that would entail, I’d guess it was a cure that was rarely put to the test.
Emeralds were touted as a cure for eye diseases and were supposed to refresh the eyes. Imagine living in the Middle Ages, a world of mostly dull colors, and suddenly seeing the vivid color of an emerald. That would certainly be enough to refresh anyone.
And it still is. If you don’t own a version of your birthstone, visit any fine jewelry store and say hello to emeralds. You’ll feel better just for the looking.
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.