In the first century, Jewish historian Josephus connected the twelve signs of the zodiac, the twelve months of the year and the twelve stones on Aaron’s breastplate. Later, St. Jerome, referencing Josephus, stated the twelve stones would be appropriate for Christian usage, and associating a stone with each month’s attire began.
In 1912, the (American) National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas and officially adopted a list of birthstones. Associating a stone with each month, birthstones as we know them officially began. This was when the emerald was named as May’s birthstone.
Emeralds, like all colored gemstones, are graded using four basic parameters: Color, Clarity, Cut and Crystal. Crystal, the last “C”, is simply another way of representing the transparency of the stone. In the case of most stones, color is usually the most important way of determining the value, with the more vibrant hues adding additional value to the stone. In the case of the emerald, however, Crystal is a very close second, with transparency contributing to the value nearly as much as the color. Unlike the diamond, whose clarity is determined using magnification, an emerald’s clarity is determined by eye. Therefore, if no flaws are seen by the naked eye, the stone is considered flawless.
Associated with loyalty, faithfulness and friendship, this poem largely describes the significance behind May’s birthstone:
“Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet, flower month of May
And wears an Emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and a loving wife.”
By weight, the emerald is the most valuable gemstone in the world. A member of the Beryl family, it is elements of chromium in the stone which produce the rich green color. While the color can range from yellow-green to blue-green, only those with a medium to dark tone are considered emerald. Light-toned gems are known instead as green beryl. A favored gem in Victorian jewelry, emeralds are most often mined in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Bailey Banks and Biddle is proud to be able to present you with a beautiful selection of emerald jewelry. Perfect for May birthday presents as well as to give those who simply love the color green, our selection includes rings, pendants and earrings. For assistance with any of your jewelry purchases, whether emerald or otherwise, please feel welcome to contact our customer service specialist anytime.