Emerald Details

Emerald is the May birthstone and is a is a bluish green to green colored variety of Beryl. The name emerald comes from the Greek "smaragdos" via the Old French "esmeralde," which really just means "green gemstone."  Rome's Pliny the Elder described emeralds in his writings as "...nothings green greener." This stone is traditionally given as a gift on the 20th and 35th anniversaries.

This gemstone has been in existence for billions of years, the oldest recorded as 2.97 billion years ago from South Africa. The oldest mines are thought to be near the Red Sea where the Egyptians pharaohs depleted the supplies. In fact, the Egyptian pharoah Cleopatra was known for her passion for emeralds.  The Aztec and Incas favored the emerald of South America as holy gemstones.  The holy scriptures of the Indians, the Vedas, talked about the healing powers of the emerald. Indian maharajas and maharanis treasure chests contained spectacular emeralds. The color green is said to relieve stress and eye strain. Legends say that emerald wearers can see into future.

Columbia and Zambia are the biggest producers of emeralds today.  But, they are found all over the world.

This is in the same family as the aquamarine and morganite. This stone is a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale which means it is quite durable and hard. Inclusions are accepted and expected in emeralds and, in fact, top quality emeralds are considered more valuable than diamonds.  The less expensive green beryls and emeralds are differentiated by their color.  A light beryl is normally not considered emerald and thus commands lower prices.


  • The safest way to clean emerald is to use warm soapy water and a soft brush.
  • Never use ultrasonic or steam cleaners with emeralds.
  • Do not subject to emeraldsto high heat or strong chemicals, or intensive light.
  • Emeralds have poor to fair toughness. Exercise care when wearing emeralds to avoid fracturing or otherwise damaging the stone.

For more information about tanzanite care, use this link to the GIA education site: Emerald Care and Cleaning.