A stone with one of the richest histories in all of gem lore, the emerald continues to captivate and enchant jewelry lovers with its incomparable green hue. Because deep green emeralds with high clarity are quite rare (and incredibly valuable), the stone is often heat treated to enhance its natural color and improve its clarity. Emeralds are a variety of beryl—a mineral that grows with six sides and may grow up to a foot tall.
Gemologists consider emerald to be one of the oldest mined stones with evidence indicating that it was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C.E.—yet some estimates suggest that the oldest emerald stones may be up to 2.97 billion years old!
The name “emerald” comes from the Greek “smaragdus,” meaning green. Emeralds have been found in Columbia, Brazil, AfghanColombiaambia, and Egypt. The Egyptians featured emerald in their jewelry and burial rituals. Believed to be a symbol of protection, emeralds were often buried with monarchs. The stone was so greatly valued by Egyptians that Cleopatra claimed ownership of all emerald mines during her reign.
Roman scholar Pliny the Elder is credited with the following statement about the beautiful green stone: "Indeed, no stone has a color that is more delightful to the eye, for, whereas the sight fixes itself with avidity upon the green grass and the foliage of the trees, we have all the more pleasure in looking upon the emerald, there being no gem in existence more intense than this.” Meanwhile, it’s believed that Roman emperor Nero would watch the gladiator games through thin, flat emeralds.
The Muzo tribe of Columbia had such well-hidden emerald mines that it took the Spanish conquistadors nearly twenty years to discover them. Indeed, the violent conflicts between natives of present-day South America and European colonists shadow the history of emerald acquisition (usually on behalf of royalty) in Western European countries.
Gold, set with table-cut emeralds, and hung with an emerald drop from Colombia, currently exhibited at Victoria and Albert Museum.
In addition to being seen as a protective force, over the centuries, emeralds have also been credited with the ability to cure stomach problems, control epilepsy, stop bleeding, and ward off panic and anxiety. Some cultures even believed that emeralds granted the owner foresight—when the emerald was placed under the tongue!
Emerald is still celebrated as a symbol of rebirth, new beginnings, loyalty, and security—making it a perfect birthstone for the lush month of May. This lovely stone also serves as a gift for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
Hooker Emerald Brooch, 1950. A beveled square-cut emerald in a platinum setting, surrounded by 109 round and 20 baguette-cut diamonds.
Are you a fan of emeralds?
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
The February birthstone amethyst is a variety of quartz with a beautiful violet hue. Its name comes from the ancient Greek for "intoxicated" (the stone was believed to protect its wearer from drunkenness). The purple hue can vary from a light, pinkish violet to a deep purple; the color is created by irradiation, iron impurities, and trace elements. Amethysts occur in the cavities of granite rocks and are found all over the world.
Roman intaglio portrait of Caracalla in amethyst
The ancient Egyptians used amethysts to create intaglio engraved gems. Later, medieval European soldiers carried amethyst amulets into battle, believing that the stone would help heal wounds and keep one cool-headed. Western Christian bishops wear an episcopal ring that often includes an amethyst, an allusion Acts 2:15, in which the apostles are not intoxicated at Pentecost.
Amethysts have also been associated with royalty and have appeared in scepters, crowns, and other items of regal jewelry. Amethyst is also said to have been the ninth stone in the breastplate of the high priest of Israel, Aaron, and one of the stones upon which the names of the tribes of Israel were engraved.
Modern Amethyst Lore
In the crystal healing tradition, amethyst is associated with peace, courage, stability, and clarity of mind. Wearing amethyst jewelry against your skin is believed to reduce stress and heighten the wearer’s intuition. Advocates of crystal healing recommend using them in meditation to more deeply connect with yourself.
Amethysts can also be used throughout the home to bring peace to any space. Placing an amethyst cluster near the entryway of your business is believed to attract abundance and new financial opportunities.
Try this self-reflection exercise using amethysts.
Amethysts at Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry
Amethysts are featured in the Royal Ruby and Amethyst Twig Ring. This statement ring is designed to elevate everyday experiences—whether that’s just a trip to the store or a fine and fancy dinner—and remind you that you’re every bit as special as a royal lady!
Do you love amethysts?
You may also be interested in: The Meaning of Pearls
Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Energy Muse, Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry