Birthstones, Blog

May Birthstone: Emerald

May Birthstone: Emerald | Vardy's Jewelers Bay Area

Emerald is the green variety of beryl (blue beryl is aquamarine, pink beryl is morganite). The most desirable color is a slightly bluish green in a medium dark tone with strong to vivid saturation. Emeralds are formed from two very rare substances, beryllium and chromium, that under normal circumstances are not found together. Only during the making of mountain ranges, did two different continental plates come together and force the chromium found in ultramafic rock to smash into newer igneous rock formations containing beryllium, thus forming emerald crystals.


  • The name Emerald originated from the Greek word for green stone.
  • The fable of “El Dorado” the Lost City of Gold was based upon an Incan settlement in the Manta Valley of Peru that contained vast quantities of emeralds, not gold.
  • In the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain achieved global domination and then spectacularly lost their foothold, largely due to the market boom, then bust, in millions of carats of emeralds stolen from the New World (waging the Spanish Inquisition and other holy wars didn’t help matters).
  • Emeralds are known as the stone of the heart because they symbolize mercy, compassion, and universal love. Emeralds are said to represent all the wonderful things in this world and how everything is interconnected by love.

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Color is the most important factor in establishing an emerald’s value. Emeralds are considered one of the “big four” gems along with diamonds, sapphires and rubies. The most desirable color is a slightly bluish green in a medium dark tone with strong to vivid saturation. The most-prized emeralds are highly transparent. Their color is evenly distributed, with no color zoning visible to the naked eye. Emeralds are more brittle than many gemstones; this makes them susceptible to damage in cutting, polishing and even every day wear. The squarish emerald cut is a classic for a reason. This style enhances the emerald’s natural color while minimizing waste. Emerald inclusions are often described as mossy or garden-like. This has earned them the nickname “jardin,” which is French for garden.


Emerald is 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale and has fair to good toughness, making it a stone that requires more care in wearing than ruby or sapphire. Even so, emeralds are beautiful stones for all types of jewelry and with proper care will last for generations. Heat can damage emeralds, especially by extending existing fractures. Light and chemicals can cause the oils, resins, and polymers used to fill surface-reaching fractures to alter in appearance or deteriorate. Remember to bring your fine jewelry in every 6 months for stone/setting checking and professional cleaning. Ultrasonic vibrations can weaken already-fractured stones, and hot steam can cause oil or unhardened resin to sweat out of fractures. Using warm, soapy water coupled with gentle scrubbing is the safest way to clean emeralds. Click here for our step-by-step guide to cleaning jewelry at home.

SOURCE: GIA (The Gemological Institute of America)