Emeralds, the birthstone for May, have been beloved throughout human history, evoking rebirth, renewal and spring. The word “emerald” comes from the Greek word “smaragdos,” which means “green stone.” Variations of this rich green color suggest soothing, lush gardens. The Roman emperor Nero is said to have viewed gladiator fights through glasses made from slices of this gemstone, possibly because it is thought that sight is refreshed and restored by this valued gem.

Emerald Gemstones

Emeralds are among the most valuable of gemstones.

The first known emerald mines were in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mummies are sometimes discovered adorned with this green gemstone, a symbol of eternal youth in ancient Egypt. In modern day, Colombian emerald mines are legendary and continue to produce the finest specimens available. Treasured by rulers such as Cleopatra, Shah Jahan and the Spanish monarchy, emeralds have been used as international currency for thousands of years.

Capoeirana emerald ring and necklace

The ring contains a 3.20-carat Capoeirana emerald center stone and the necklace is set with Bahia emeralds; the pear shapes weigh ~0.40-carat each.

Another of the many virtues attributed to this gemstone, Emeralds are said to quicken the intelligence as well as the heart. Maybe this is why May’s birthstone is known for inspiring joy.

EmeraldCheck out emeralds in the GIA Celebrates Birthstones exhibit at the GIA Carlsbad campus. Schedule a free tour 24 hours in advance by contacting guestservices@gia.edu; calling 800-421-7250, ext. 4116 or 760-603-4116; or visiting www.gia.edu.