May birthstone: emerald

One of the rarest and most valuable gemstones, the emerald oozes mystery and class.

Prized for their rich, green hue and transparency, these breathtaking gemstones are admired across the globe and were once even worshipped as gods.

Exquisite set in any precious metal, alone or starring alongside other gemstones, the emerald never loses its appeal. If you were born in May, you are fortunate to count this vivid green jewel as your birthstone.

Rare and precious

When we think of the rarest, most precious gems, it is often diamonds that come to mind. However, emeralds are around 20 times rarer than diamonds. That means they often come with a higher price tag.

So while they feature in many engagement rings and other fine jewellery, it is more unusual to see emeralds. And, of course, their rarity is one reason why they are so coveted.

Their transparency is a key part of their appeal but almost all emeralds have some inclusions. Formed during crystallisation, these can even be desirable as they make each stone unique. However, some flaws can devalue a stone, so tread carefully if you are considering investing in a piece of emerald jewellery.

Most emeralds are cut in a regular or square step cut – known as the ‘emerald cut’ when it is applied to other gemstones. Round and oval cuts are far rarer and more expensive. While emeralds are always green, there are subtle variations in hue, and it is blue-green emeralds which attract the highest value.

An evergreen symbol of new beginnings and long-lasting love

The emerald symbolises springtime, new beginnings and love. It seems fitting that this rare stone has been selected to symbolise such a long and precious union as a 55th wedding anniversary.

Emerald is arguably the most legendary of all precious gems. The Romans revered them as symbols of fertility and love and the ancient Incas are believed to have worshipped a giant emerald. Some even believe the Holy Grail is encrusted with emeralds.

Cherished by ancient rulers and Hollywood stars

Emeralds have been adored by Royalty for millennia. Cleopatra famously adorned herself in these green gems and one of Princess Diana’s best-loved pieces was an emerald choker, gifted by Queen Elizabeth II.

The stunning stones have also dazzled on red carpets throughout the decades. Elizabeth Taylor is perhaps the celebrity most often associated with emeralds. Her most prized item in what was once thought to be the most valuable private jewellery collection in the world was said to be an emerald-studded diamond necklace. The piece, which featured 16 step-cut octagonal emeralds, was rumoured to have been a gift from former husband Richard Burton.

And emeralds have not lost their appeal among the stars. More recently, Angelina Jolie turned heads at the 2009 Oscars wearing a pair of 115-carat pear-shape emerald drop earrings that were reported to be worth two million US dollars.

A natural phenomenon

Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl and its unusual colour comes from the presence of chromium or vanadium. The stones are formed over thousands of years and, while they were mined in ancient Egypt and have been found around the world, most emeralds available today were mined in Colombia.

Registering 7.5–8 on the Mohs scale, emerald is around the same hardness as hardened steel. However, natural inclusions can make emeralds brittle and more prone to damage than many other precious gemstones.

Wearing emeralds today

While emeralds may conjure up images of ancient legends, these dazzling green stones work brilliantly with contemporary fashions. Vogue magazine has called on its readers to embrace emeralds this summer to add a touch of colourful class to any outfit.

Thanks to their vivid green colour, emeralds make an eye-catching statement, particularly when worn against plain black or white. Whether it’s a little black dress or a tailored suit, the addition of an emerald will take any outfit to a whole new level. And, of course, these stones look sensational with red lipstick.

However you wear them, these evergreen stones will always turn heads. Their breathtaking natural beauty and rarity makes them truly precious items.

If you add a piece of emerald jewellery to your collection, you will want to do all you can to protect such a rare and precious item. Our jewellery and watch insurance will provide you with peace of mind and protection.

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