With its vibrant hues of verdant green, emeralds have captivated people’s imaginations for centuries and have inspired boundless cultural lore around the world. Many cultures from China to Ireland regard emeralds as a symbol of good luck. The ancient Egyptians believed it represented fertility and rebirth while ancient Greeks associated this stone with Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.
Highly sought-after and very valuable, the power of this lush crystal stirs the soul and inspires hope, compassion, and love. The famous deep green of emerald reflects new growth and renewal making it the perfect birthstone for May, the heart of springtime.
With this guide, you’ll learn about emerald’s storied history, where it comes from, how to care for it, and its multifaceted healing properties.
History of Emerald
The emerald is one of the most famous and sought-after gemstones in history. For over 6,000 years it has been revered for its rejuvenating green hues, garnering fans around the world from ancient cultures to royal dynasties. Its name comes from the ancient Greek word for green, “smaragdus” and has inspired many important figures throughout history like Queen Cleopatra known for her love of the green, soothing stone. The first known emerald mines were in Egypt, and it is believed that these mines date back to as early as 3500 BC.
Emeralds from what is now Colombia were plundered in the sixteenth-century by Spanish conquistadors in the New World. Treasured by the Incas in jewelry and religious ceremonies for hundreds of years, the Spanish envied these precious stones and acquired them to trade for gold and silver. It was through this trade that emeralds were first introduced to European royalty, captivating the hearts and the insatiable appetites for the luxury of the European elite.
Today emeralds are mined and can be found around the world in places like Afghanistan, Brazil, and Russia through the largest emerald mines in the world are located in Zambia and Colombia. To this day Colombia is the biggest producer of emeralds and is home to the extremely rare trapiche emerald characterized by its ray-like spokes of dark impurities.
Physical properties of Emerald
Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl and gets its remarkable color green from trace amounts of chromium and vanadium. An emerald’s worth is determined by the four C’s: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. The most prized emeralds have a rich green color, are highly transparent, and are filled with brilliancy. Emeralds are highly valuable even though most contain tiny mineral inclusions or fractures known as “jardin,” the French and Spanish word for garden. Truly flawless emeralds are extremely rare and very valuable. As with any colored stone, emeralds require a well-trained eye to recognize the subtle variations within its composition to determine their value. This is especially true in higher qualities.
The unmistakable green of an emerald has become the “green standard” for green-colored stones for thousands of years. Although emerald has multiple unique qualities, gem experts widely concur that its most important attribute is its color. When it comes to color, the most desirable hue range is from bluish-green to yellowish-green with medium to vivid saturation. The color of the emerald is determined by the impurities of chromium and/or vanadium and greatly depends on the location of the mine. For example, emeralds from Colombia tend to be a deeper, pure green hue while those from Zambia are a cooler, more bluish-green hue.
Metaphysical Properties of Emerald
Emerald is known as the “stone of successful love” enhancing unconditional love, unity, and loyalty. It is known to bring harmony to all areas of one’s life by promoting physical, emotional, and mental equilibrium. Symbolizing renewal, growth, and hope, emerald seeks to spread love and reveal the truth in the ever-constant search for meaning in life. A stone of aspiration and inspiration, emerald sustains one’s spiritual journey.
Associated with the heart chakra, emerald focuses on intentions and raises consciousness by eliminating negative energy in the body to invite positivity and enhance one’s ability to enjoy life to the fullest. It is said that emeralds help one recognize what true happiness means. Emerald opens the heart, offering unconditional love and compassion in daily life and relationships. They are believed to promote harmony and loyalty within relationships and protect lovers from unfaithfulness. It is said that if the heart is loyal the stone will glow a vibrant green, however, if the heart has wandered the stone will turn lifeless and dull.
In addition to its balancing and joyous properties, emerald enhances psychic abilities, opens clairvoyance, and stimulates a greater mental capacity. Legends say that placing an emerald under the tongue enables one to foresee the future, reveal truths, and ward off evil spirits. Imparting reason and wisdom to the beholder, emeralds inspire a deep inner knowing and promote truth and discernment. Known to strengthen memory and improve intelligence, emerald brings about awareness, intuition, and clarity of thought.
Emerald is often seen as an excellent crystal for reviving passion whether it’s for a particular interest, person, or job. While emeralds have a calming effect on emotions, they invigorate thought, reflection, and philosophy. It is a great crystal for sparking creativity and bringing focus to one’s work. Its notoriety for increasing mental acuity and eloquence in speech makes it a great crystal for support in the workplace.
Emerald’s physical healing properties can be used to treat disorders of the heart, lungs, spine, and muscular system. It aids in detoxing the liver and supports recovery after an infectious illness. Emerald is also known to help sinuses, soothe the eyes, and can even improve vision. A physical healing powerhouse, emerald is also believed to ward off everything from fevers and headaches to skin irritations and eczema.
How to Clean Emerald
Emeralds are typically treated with oils to enhance clarity and luster. Because of this, emeralds are very sensitive to harsh cleaning agents and heat. Emeralds should never be cleaned with ultrasonic baths, high heat, steam, or any other cleaning solution that contains petroleum distillates or other organic solvents, even if they come as a recommended jewelry cleaning solution. These can strip the oil treatment of emeralds leaving a dull, matte appearance. A good rule of thumb is that if the cleaning solution is too hot for you to put your hand in, you should not place your emerald in it.
Instead, an Emerald should be cleaned gently with a warm, mild detergent and a very soft brush like an old toothbrush. Gently clean the emerald with warm water and mild soap, lightly polishing with a soft brush. Rinse the emerald with warm water and pat dry. Emeralds should never be submerged in the cleaning solution for longer than necessary, and you should only clean your emerald no more than a handful of times per year. If your emerald begins to look lackluster, it can be re-oiled by a professional jeweler to restore its shine.
Emerald is the traditional Taurus birthstone, and brings luck to everyone born in May and under the Taurus Zodiac sign. Note: if you're interested in Zodiac birthstones and Birthstones by month check out our complete guides.
Emerald: Your Green Beauty
Emeralds have captured hearts and excited imaginations since antiquity. For thousands of years, people have used Emeralds to foster harmony and balance, strengthen love and compassion, promote wisdom and spiritual vision, and even heal physical ailments. A mystical stone worshipped by the Incas, revered by the ancient Greeks as a symbol of the goddess Venus, and adored by ancient Egyptians; emeralds are a true classic --loved by all for an excellent reason. A powerful crystal is known to align the heart chakra and invite in love, Emerald soothes the soul and brings comfort to all who work with it.