Indeed, the emerald has captivated people since 330BC, when Cleopatra displayed her passion for them by adorning herself with the gem. In fact, the earliest-know locality for the emerald was a collection of mines near the Red Sea in Egypt. These were known as Cleopatra's emerald mines.
The first discovery of emeralds in Australia came in 1890, in a locality around 14 kilometres from Emmaville in New South Wales.
There, a local tin prospector discovered the green crystals in a dyke offshoot from greisen granite – a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock where it had taken the form of pegmatite.
The area was subsequently mined in 1891-2, with some 25,000 carats of emerald being mined each year.
The most famous of the beryl family (including aquamarine), the finest quality emerald has the colour of fresh, green grass. It is an almost pure spectral green, sometimes with a very faint tint of blue.
Emeralds predominantly derive this colour from chromium and less often, vanadium. A silicate of aluminium and beryllium, the emerald's crystals belong to the hexagonal system, meaning that when beryl crystallises, it forms a six-sided prism.
The aluminium ions in the crystal lattice are replaced with chromium and this is when the emerald turns green. Chromium is actually the same mineral that gives ruby its red colour. Traces of iron are also usually present in the emerald and this may have some effect on its final shade of green.
The beauty of the emerald lies in its lush green colour. Green has always been known as a soothing hue. Even the early lapidaries were captivated by the vividness of emerald and ancient stories tell of engravers who suffered from eyestrain gazing into an emerald to soothe their weary eyes.
Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History wrote, "they have no better method of restoring their eyes than by looking at the emerald".
Legend has it that emeralds have the power to render the wearer more intelligent and quick-witted, and to provide them the ability to forecast events. The talented gem was even believed to vouchsafe faithfulness and inspire unchanging love.
Emeralds are rarely found as clear crystals and often contain fine wispy inclusions that are not faults but evidence of the genuine nature of the material. Many prefer stones containing these inclusions, or “jardin” as it is referred to by gemmologists, to cleaner “glassy” stones.
Almost all emeralds are subjected to a traditional enhancement process that involves the introduction of colourless fluids such as special oils into the fine fissures present in most emeralds.
Although a fairly hard stone, emerald may chip easily as it is slightly brittle.
With a colour that reflects new spring growth, the emerald was the perfect choice as birthstone for May in the Northern Hemisphere. Additionally, its status as the 55th wedding anniversary gemstone also ensures the emerald will retain its kudos as a favoured gem.
Hardness: 7.5 – 8
Variety of: Mineral beryl
Found: Best-known sources are Colombia and Zambia. Other sources include Afghanistan, Brazil, Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe, and Australia.
Modern birthstone: Emerald
Traditional birthstone: Emerald
Mystical birthstone: Sapphire
Ayurvedic birthstone: Agate
Taurus (April 21 - May 20) Rose quartz
Gemini (May 21- June 20) Citrine/ tiger's eye
The luscious green birthstone of May, Emerald, has previously been voted Pantone's colour of the year.#emerald #maybirthstone #maybaby #happybirthday #emeraldstone #greenwithenvy #greenenvy #berylfamilyPosted by Jeweller Magazine on Wednesday, 1 May 2013