May Birthstone: Emerald
Emerald, the birthstone for May, has been beloved for millennia, evoking rebirth and renewal. Widely regarded as the definition of green, emerald is the perfect color for spring.
Today, it's the gemstone given for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
The word “emerald” comes from smaragdos, ancient Greek for a green gem. Roman author Pliny the Elder, who died in the 79 CE eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, wrote in his encyclopedic Natural History that “nothing greens greener.” He also stated that the May birthstone had therapeutic properties that helped gem cutters: “(they) have no better method of restoring their eyes than by looking at the emerald, its soft, green color comforting and removing their weariness and lassitude.” Science now proves this belief: The color green relieves stress and eye strain.
Colombia has been the source of the finest emeralds for more than 500 years, and Colombian emeralds are the standard by which all others are measured.
Emerald is a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, so it is more susceptible to scratching than a diamond, which ranks 10 on the scale. The emerald birthstone requires some special care: Avoid exposure to heat, changes in air pressure (such as in an airline cabin) and harsh chemicals. The safest way to clean emeralds is to gently scrub them with a soft brush and warm, soapy water.