May’s Birthstone -Emerald

May Birthstone: Emerald
Alternate birthstones for May: Agate and Chrysoprase
Ancient birthstone for May: Agate
Zodiac signs for May:
Taurus April 21-May 2 Emerald
Gemini May 22-June 21 Agate
Traditional stone for 55th wedding anniversary

An exquisite emerald cut in the traditional "Emerald Cut".

An exquisite emerald cut in the traditional “Emerald Cut”.

Those with a May birthday have one of the most costly, valuable, and rare birthstones, Emerald. A member of the beryl family, Emerald is colored green with chromium, vanadiam and iron, small inclusions are acceptable and do not weigh against the quality of the stone. The green color of the best quality stones is described as ‘new wet grass after a rain’. Emeralds are a difficult stone to cut, while hard 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, they can be brittle and any inclusions can cause the stone to chip while being cut and polished.  Emeralds also lend their name to a particular cut of gemstones, the rectangular stepped cut called the ‘emerald cut’, which focuses on increasing the depth of color rather than the brilliance of a stone. Emeralds a commonly ‘oiled’ which is a process of submerging the stone in mineral or other oils to deepen the color and help minimize the appearance of inclusions. Emerald beads are available, but mostly are made of less desirable material.

Emeralds are found in several places around the world, often in mica schists within granite deposits. Formed under pressure, emeralds often pick up bits of stone or bubbles that give each stone a unique ‘fingerprint’ of inclusions. They can be found in streams and riverbeds, carried to the surface from deeper deposits. In antiquity emeralds were mined in Egypt, the Cleopatra mines are the best known in that area. Modern mines are focused in Columbia, Brazil and South Africa, with smaller mines in India, Pakistan, Russia, and even North Carolina in the US. Emeralds have long been purported to have mystical qualities, ancient beliefs included protection from poison, a restorative to eyesight, to bring luck, success and youthfulness. 


Apple green chrysoprase beads.

Not an emerald fan, but born in May? Two alternate birthstones may satisfy the Taurus or Gemini. Chrysoprase and agate are less precious than emerald, but no less beautiful! Chrysoprase is an apple green variation of chalcedony, colored by a small amount of nickel. Fairly rare, Chrysoprase is used primarily in jewelry, cut in cabochons or beads. Chrysoprase is used to balance the yin and yang and in India to help mend a broken heart. Chrysoprase and agate share a connection of structure, both being made of crystals so tiny, they are classified as micro-crystalline. Agate, a chalcedony quartz that forms in layers, is well-known for its beautiful stripes and bands that take on the appearance of tree rings, eyes, loops and scallops. Agate is used for many decorative objects, bowls, cameos, carvings as well as beads and jewelry. Used since ancient times for carved talismans, agate is a protective stone, especially helpful to promote rich and varied dreams.


Banded and striped agate beads.

 Working with emeralds, chrysoprase and agate in your jewelry adds so much color and dimension! Mix emeralds with gold as the richness of gold sets off the true green of emeralds. Want the color without the high price tag? Use Swarovski emerald-green crystal beads, all of the color, made affordable! Chrysoprase’s apple green also cries out for luscious gold, but also try oxidized silver and gunmetal to deepen the contrast without adding much color. Agates with swirls and stripes of black, gray and white mix well with other beads in similar color ranges, gray moonstone, onyx, and light gray or ivory pearls.

About Emily Miller
Beads make me happy. I need to work with my hands everyday to connect with the artist within. Teaching others spreads the bead joy.....

One Response to May’s Birthstone -Emerald

  1. Michelle Bedell says:

    I miss your shop I use to come from Escalon when I visited Berkley I could stay in the shop for hours . And go through all the buckets. Xxoo Michelle Bedell


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