Are you green with envy? I am because I can't claim emerald the May birthstone color as my own. Don't get me wrong, I love garnet, my birthstone; but my favorite color is green, and emerald is the epitome.

However, I am aware that green is not a color everyone wears comfortably. Dull olive can drain the color from even the healthiest of complexions. Dressing in vivid green may be too attention-getting while soft mint green can leave you feeling sweet rather than confident. My fashion tip for effortlessly wearing green is to set it in gold!

Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, [CC BY 2.0]

Emeralds are the perfect shade. Always green, vibrant, and full of life; a color only Mother Earth can create. My mom says, "It isn't that I want emeralds. I need emeralds." She treated herself to an emerald ring years ago that she wears every day but it isn't the ring pictured above.

That is the famous Chalk Emerald ring that was donated to the National Gem Collection by Mr. and Mrs. O. Roy Chalk in 1972. The superb clarity and color of the Chalk Emerald rank it among the world's most beautiful Colombian emeralds. This outstanding emerald exhibits the deep green color that is highly prized. According to legend, it was once the centerpiece of an emerald and diamond necklace belonging to the Maharani of the former state of Baroda, India. It originally weighed 38.4 carats but was recut and set in a ring designed by Harry Winston, surrounded by 60 pear-shaped diamonds totaling 15 carats.

Аружан Жамбулатова [CC BY-SA 3.0]

The best emeralds are from South America. The ancient mines of the Aztecs and Incas are stilled bearing the most beautiful gems on the market today. The only thing wrong with emeralds are the imperfections. It is far from a perfect stone, although it is yet another reason I love them so much. Past its faceted exterior lies many fractures and fissures. The French word for garden, Jardin, describes these crystallized striations, which is the natural "foliage" within the stone, which is its unique fingerprint created over millions of years.

These inclusions make the emerald very hard to work with; cutting and setting can be catastrophic. Be careful when thinking of resetting an old stone because there is always the possibility of it cracking.

Emerald is a genuine gemstone, by definition not a semi-precious stone. Most emeralds carat for carat are more valuable than diamonds.

According to EMCO, Inc purveyors of Columbian emeralds, there are four critical aspects of an emerald: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Unlike some other gems, color is the essential characteristic of an emerald. Hue and intensity can vary significantly with the most desirable tones in the bluish-green range with medium to vivid saturation.

The green color of emeralds is determined by the impurities of chromium and/or vanadium, depending on the mine – this means that emeralds from different parts of Colombia, as well as the world, have different shades of color. By looking at color alone, an expert can figure out the location of origin.


Hue is the color of the gem. Some colors are rarer than others. From the chart, the only two colors that are relevant when describing emeralds are green and very slightly bluish green. Most Colombian emeralds are bluish green.

Gem colors are a combination of dominant and modifying colors. For example, Bluish-Green has a dominant Green hue with modifying tints of Blue. Just so that there is no confusion, I need to point out that this is the opposite of how colors are usually described where Blue-Green would mean that blue is the dominant color modified by green.

I also learned that the term tone is used to describe the characteristic of color referred to in other industries as value. When describing gems, the tone is the lightness or darkness of the stone. According to the GIA tone scale, tone runs from 0 (white or colorless) to 10 (black). Fine emeralds tend to fall between 2 and 8. Note that darker does not mean better. Rich color is the darkest one should look for in emeralds. The finest gemstones are based on taste and generally range from medium, medium rich, to rich color.

Unlike most gemstones, which are priced solely on their carat weight, an emeralds price is set based on its color, cut, and clarity. Experts agree that a smaller stone with brilliant color quality is more valuable than a larger one with poor color quality.

Allure of the May Birthstone Color

How about the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz? Could any other stone be more exotic or alluring? What a memorable scene when Dorothy and friends come upon the poppy fields and look ahead to the bright and towering city at the end of the yellow brick road!

The Grotta dello Smeraldo (Italian for "Emerald Grotto") is not a fictional place. It is a cave, partly inundated by the sea and located in Conca dei Marini, Italy, on the Amalfi Coast. It is a real natural phenomenon rivaling Emerald City!

The Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus is associated with emerald, and ancient Greeks honored Aphrodite, their Greek goddess of fertility, love, and beauty by wearing emeralds.

Cleopatra was a huge fan. The earliest known discovery of emeralds was in Egypt near the Red Sea.

Today, many women of note including Kate Middleton, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie, Kareena Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Shilpa Shetty, Maria Menounos, Beyonce, and Julianne Moore are regularly seen wearing emeralds.

Fresh, vivid, soothing and balanced, green is the color most representative of nature, springtime, and eternal love. Wouldn't it be soothing to put emerald studs in your ears? I know I would feel in harmony with the world around me when I slide an emerald ring on my finger. Like my mom, I need emeralds. Are you someone who loves this gemstone? Leave a comment and tell me why you need this gem in your life.

See the Other Eleven Birthstone Colors

Kimberlin Brown

When I wanted to explore birthstone color, I knew just who to call on to write these articles -- Kimberlin Brown. an amazing jeweler who is inspired by the beauty of flora, fauna and the ocean's seascapes. All of her collections are created by hand in her New York City studio. Take a moment to pop over to her website to see her latest work -- Kimberlin shaped the articles and I added my color expertise. We hope you enjoy the results.

Paweł Maliszczak [] [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

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Kimberlin Brown and Kate Smith
  • tom lincoln says:

    Very interesting and informative article.Thanks for sharing

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