Birthstone Friday – Emeralds’ Bloody History

In 1558, the Spanish began drawing on the vast emerald mines at Muzo, Colombia, which produced high-quality emeralds. This style of cross, with large cut stones, was favored by wealthy aristocratic women of the Spanish court including Archduchess Isabella. Photo: The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

Birthstones often have swashbuckling histories, but for me, one of the swashbuckling-est is emerald.

I always think of Spanish conquistadores, those blood-thirsty, gold-hungry invaders of South America when I think of emeralds. They terrorized the native populations, tortured, enslaved and slaughtered them, and once they had their booty on heavily loaded ships, they were hunted by pirates themselves. Often those overloaded ships went down in hurricanes in the Caribbean. Some truly amazing emeralds have come up with divers to those galleons. Continue reading

Birthstone Friday—A Taste of Emerald Lore

14k white and yellow gold ring set with Afghani emerald. Ring by Deborah Spencer. Photo courtesy Trios Studio, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Of all gemstones, emeralds, because of their long history and rich color, have a wealth of wealth of lore and legend surrounding them. That makes it particularly fun to have emerald as your birthstone. They’re full of myth and magic!

Can the intense green mean anything else than spring, rebirth, and fertility? Perhaps not surprising that it was chosen as the birthstone for this month of almost overwhelming green in the season of fresh starts. Continue reading

Birthstone Friday – Emerald Dreaming

Sergei Kamenskikh via Dreamstime_xs_78932905 YG Emerald Pendant

Photo Sergei Kamenskikh via Dreamstime

If my mother hadn’t been in such a nesting mood and decided to wash walls in the weeks before she was due to deliver me, I would have been born in May, not April. My birthstone would have been emerald, not diamond.

Perhaps my near-May miss was why I always had a burning desire to own an emerald, although you can probably chalk part of it up to the Wizard of Oz and his Emerald City. When I first fell into the jewelry business, that was almost my first order of business: see and own a real emerald!

So it was with a crushing sense of disappointment that I saw my first emerald. It was kind of dull, yellowish green, not a pretty emerald green. And it wasn’t clear. It had stuff in it. I could not imagine what all the hype had been about.

Completely turned me off emeralds. I still watched Dorothy and friends every chance I got, but I thought the Wizard had a lot to answer for.

Since then, however, I’ve been privileged to see some breathtakingly spectacular emeralds, including some early stones mined and cut in Colombia that had lain drowned in the Caribbean for hundreds of years. (More on that another time.)

So I’ve reversed my opinion. Emeralds truly do deserve their place among the big five gemstones. (These are emeralds, rubies, sapphires, diamonds and pearls. I always include pearls although some don’t. In fact, in my book, pearls are probably the greatest gemstone in the world. More about that, too, another time.) However, the emeralds that earn that top spot have always been, and will always be, far beyond my budget. Although I can never own one, at least in the quality I would enjoy, I can and do enjoy seeing fine emeralds whenever I can.

For those lucky enough to have mothers who delivered in this fair month, enjoy your lovely stone!