May's Birthstone: Emerald
Who first beholds the light of day
In spring's sweet flowery month of May,
And wear the Emerald all her life,
Shall be a loved and happy wife.
Emerald is just like Aquamarine, Heliodor and Morganite a member of the Beryl group and belongs to the Silicate Family. Emeralds are formed under extreme heat in the earth, this stone is found in mica schists and Granites. Emeralds crystal structure is fairly easy to recognise, the Emerald is formed as prismatic six sided crystals with a flattened top. Emerald's hardness is 7,5 to 8 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Emerald's colour varies from light green to a dark green, the darkest green colour is used even outside mineralogy as a definition of this specific colour and is called Emerald green. The stone is coloured by trace amounts of the element chrome (Colombia) and vanadium (Brazil and Zambia). Emeralds are translucent to opaque, the opaque stones are not considered 'gemstone quality' and they are often cut into cabochons.
The Emeralds that are of gemstone quality, are almost never free of inclusions. As a matter of fact Emeralds with no inclusions at all are considered 'suspect' and it is often thought that they are man made in a lab. Emerald's inclusions are called 'jardins' or gardens, and a lot of people consider these jardins Emerald's charm, and only wish to purchase a stone with inclusions as a 'certificate of authenticity'. Flawless Emeralds are very rare and they are even more expensive than Diamonds! Next to the characteristic jardins, Emerald has another optical characteristic that is very important when judging the authenticity of the stone. Emeralds have a property called dichroism, which means that the stone displays two different colours or shades of colour when one looks at the stone from different angles. This phenomenon is caused by the refractive index of the stone.
There are three very rare varieties of Emerald: the Star Emerald, these stones are so rare that they are very expensive, and they are sometimes called Trapiche Emeralds, although this name is not correct. The Trapiche Emerald is an Emerald with carbon inclusions that display a six-spoked wheel. These stones are also expensive and rare. The third Emerald variety is the Emerald Cat's Eye.
The name Emerald hails from the Greek and is derived from the word Smaragdos, which became Esmeralde in Middle English. The meaning and origins of the word Smaragdos is unknown, although it is said that it is derived from the Persian word for green gemstone.
In the past all green gemstones were called Emeralds, until about 200 years ago it was discovered that although some stones did have similar appearances, they did have a different chemical composition. When it was discovered that Emerald had the composition Al2Be3(SiO3)6, it became clear that many famous 'Emeralds' were actually Peridots. This makes Emeralds history as mysterious as the stone itself.
According to legend the Roman emperor Nero wore spectacles made of Emerald whenever he watched the bloody games in his arena. All things considered this is not all that strange, for in the past the first lenses of spectacles were made out of Beryl. In fact the German word for spectacles 'Brille' and the Dutch word for them 'bril', are derived from the word Beryl. Not only was Emerald considered a sacred stone in Ancient Rome, also in Ancient Egypt this stone was revered as a symbol of rebirth and fertility. The dead were buried with an Emerald on their necks, to insure they would receive eternal life and eternal youth. Queen Cleopatra had her image etched into Emeralds so she could present them to her visitors. Emerald is also a stone that is associated with the Egyptian Goddess Isis. In China this stone is still passed on through the family, from mother to daughter, especially when the daughter is pregnant, because this stone holds the property to ease child birth. Losing or breaking an Emerald was long considered an omen of evil. The British King George III is an excellent example of this theory, during his coronation an Emerald fell from the crown, and George later went insane. Whether his insanity was related to the loss of the stone or whether the king was just in weak mental health, will never be known now. But this was not the only reason why one would observe the Emerald closely, it was said that the Emerald kept the virginity of women. Whenever the Emerald broke or was lost, the woman concerned had lost her 'innocence'. Unfortunately this was not a real good measure, for the Emerald is brittle and receptive to scratching and also to breaking.
In gemstone therapy the Emerald's properties are diverse, and also in gemstone magic this stone is used for many purposes. Unfortunately Emeralds that are considered of gemstone quality are not available to most of us, because of the high prices. The opaque, tumbled stones are affordable for most of us. These tumbled stones may be used in gemstone therapy and magic, but if you are not successful in finding one; there are some alternatives. In gemstone magic the Emerald may be replaced by one of the following stones: Aquamarine, Beryl, Peridot or Verdelite (Green Tourmaline), but these stones are not inexpensive either.
Emerald strengthens the mind, and it may be used to dispel nightmares and insomnia. Emerald positively influences the psyche as well, it diminishes mood swings, helps against schizophrenia, unknown fears and gives its wearer happiness. Next to this the Emerald positively influences the visual faculty and may also be used to diminish and heal eye infections and teary eyes. Emerald also strengthens the heart and may be used with problems of circulation and blood pressure. This stone strengthens the immune system and also strengthens the function of glands and organs. More exotic illnesses, like malaria, may be treated with Emerald, therefore it is a stone that you should have in your first aid kit when you go to a country where malaria is one of the leading illnesses. This is not the only reason why this stone should be in your vacation first aid kit, it also cures diarrhoea and can be used as a laxative, in other words: Emerald makes sure you have a healthy stool. Next to that Emerald will protect you against bacteria and also the muscular system benefits tremendously from wearing this stone.
Emerald stimulates intuition and clairvoyance, and may also prove to be helpful in problems with meditation. It also promotes mental development. This stone is capable to heal both physical and mental wounds and Emerald protects one against all kinds of radiation. In magic Emerald may be used to attract love, but also to pull wealth and success to yourself, into your life. Emeralds may also be used in protection rituals and exorcisms. The Emerald strengthens the energies of the following Bach Flower Remedies: Cerato, Crab Apple, Rock Rose, Sweet Chestnut, White Chestnut, Wild Oat & Wild Rose.