Just about to pop off to another birthday party on this fine day the 9th of May. It seems only appropriate that I have a May themed wrap but as I am definitely not a star sign devotee, I quickly moved onto birthstones. I’m not cool enough to know whether birthstones are in or out of fashion but they were big when I was growing up and my mother always seemed to find a little sapphire something for me as a September birthday girl as well as opals for my October born sister and garnet for my younger January sibling.
In May, it’s all about the emerald. The emerald is widely held to be a symbol of rebirth which grants the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth (youth? Please can I swap out a sapphire for an emerald?)
The word emerald is said to be derived from the word smaragdus, meaning green in Greek via the Old French ‘esmeralde’. Emerald is made of beryl Be3Al2(SiO3)6 (really Beryl?) with a hardness of 7.5–8 on the Mohs scale. Go Moh.
When pure, beryl is colourless and known as “goshenite.” Trace amounts of chromium or vanadium in the mineral cause it to develop a green color. Trace amounts of iron will tint emerald a bluish green or a yellowish green color depending upon its oxidation state. There’s even a bit of a debate as to when an emerald is actually an emerald – if the beryl’s colour is greenish blue then it is an “aquamarine.” If it is greenish yellow it is “heliodor.” a hardness of 7.5–8 on the Mohs scale. Go Moh.
The oldest emeralds are about 2.97 billion years old and were first mined in Egypt around 1500 BC. They are the king of the green gemstones, leaving the likes of peridot and tourmaline in their wake. So now to some interesting emerald facts from the appropriately named website “Interesting Emerald Facts”.
Emerald is one of the four recognized precious gemstones along with ruby, sapphire and diamond. Most emeralds have some type of inclusion or imperfection. Instead of use the term imperfection, dealers refer to emerald inclusions as an internal “jardin” (garden in French) – so keep that up your sleeve – jardon sounds so much better than flawed.
Emeralds and diamonds often square off with emeralds the quiet winner. Colour, clarity, cut, and carat weight are used to determine the value of an emerald. Top quality emeralds can be worth more than diamonds because emeralds without imperfections are very rare. Not only that, but a 1 carat emerald appears larger than a 1 carat diamond because emeralds have a lower density.
Emeralds were discovered in South America in the 16th century by the Spanish thought they prized by the Incas before that. The Spanish then traded emeralds across Europe and Asia for precious metals, opening up the emerald trade to the rest of the world. Today, Colombia yields the largest amount of emeralds, contributing to more than 50% of all emerald production worldwide. Zambia comes in a credible second.
The $400 million Bahia Emerald is the world’s most expensive emerald gemstone, and its curse has ravaged the lives of nearly every person it’s come in contact with since it was discovered in a Brazilian rain forest mine in 2001. You should have a read about the Bahia Emeralds – seriously – it is a ripping yarn.
The story of the emerald wrap isn’t quite the same ripping yarn as the Bahia Emerald. But I do like it’s colour, clarity and cut. I so wanted to use little emerald coloured sparkly diamante things but o my goodness….that just did not work . Instead I opted for emerald colour paper and a black tag and ribbon to offset the intensity of the colour. Just hope this little gift gives the recipient foresight, good fortune, and youth.