Emerald, the birthstone for May, has been beloved for millennia, evoking rebirth and renewal. Widely regarded as the definition of green, emerald is the perfect colour for spring. From the poetic description of Ireland as “the Emerald Isle” to the vibrant green of the famed gemstone itself—the May birthstone emerald has captured hearts and minds through the ages.
Variations of this rich green color suggest soothing, lush gardens. Legend has it that emerald has the power to make its wearer more intelligent and quick-witted, and it was once believed to cure diseases like cholera and malaria. Today, it's the gemstone given for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
From Egyptian pharaohs to Inca emperors, emerald has enchanted royalty. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald and used it in her royal adornments. The legendary Crown of the Andes, fashioned in colonial South America, is one example of how the Spanish revered the May birthstone. According to lore, its largest stone—now called the Atahualpa emerald—was taken from the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, by conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The emerald and gold treasures recovered from the sunken 17th century Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha represent a small fraction of the colonial riches sent to Spain from the New World.
Colombia has been the source of the finest emeralds for more than 500 years, and Colombian emeralds are the standard by which all others are measured. Three mining sites in Colombia are particularly noteworthy: Muzo, Chivor and Coscuez. Each locality produces a range of colors but, generally speaking, darker tones of pure green emeralds come from Muzo. Emeralds that are lighter in tone and slightly bluish green are associated with Chivor. Slightly yellowish green emeralds are unearthed in Coscuez.
The May birthstone is also found in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. One of the most productive sites for the green birthstone is the sophisticated Belmont mine. Capoeirana is another important locality, a rugged region worked largely by independent miners and small-scale operations.
The May birthstone can also be found in Africa. Zambia is a major source, and mines in the Ndola Rural Restricted Area are known for producing emeralds that are bluish green and darker in tone. Pakistan and Afghanistan are important producers as well.
The May birthstone is perfectly suited to the celebration of life blooming everywhere. Given the rich green hues of emerald, it was inevitable that we would fall under its spell. Productive mines around the world ensure that all who love green or are born in May will continue to be enchanted. Now you can treat yourself – or a loved one – to an emerald that captures the exuberance of the season.