An Introduction to Emeralds, May's Birthstone

May 23, 2019

Raw emerald crystals by GIA Robert Weldon

If you are born in May or celebrating your 20th or 35th anniversary, emerald is the gem for you. High quality emeralds are extremely rare and can easily be of equal to or more valuable than diamonds. It is a variety of the mineral, beryl, and is a sibling to many gemstones such as aquamarine, golden beryl, and morganite. It has a bluish green to pure green color, with vivid color saturation and a tone that’s not too dark. 

Emeralds are hard gemstones at 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale (from 1-10). Unfortunately, they tend be brittle. The “toughness” of emeralds, which is based on the resistance of a gemstone breaking, is generally poor.  Care will need to always be taken when wearing these exceptionally rare stones. It is not recommended to put emeralds in an ultrasonic environment or to subject stones to heat from a torch, like during sizing or re-tipping.

Emeralds are known as a type 3 gemstone, which means that they most often form with inclusions. If you see a stone that is “emerald green” in color with no inclusions, there’s a strong chance it could be a synthetic emerald.  Synthetic emeralds were first successfully created in 1935 by Carroll Chatham. Very fine quality stones have fewer inclusions in general with little to no inclusions reaching the surface. Stones of significant size are also highly uncommon.

Emeralds can only be found in few places in the world naturally: Colombia, Brazil, United States (North Carolina), Pakistan, and Afghanistan. 

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 Photo Courtesy of G.I.A.
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