What is an Emerald?
Emerald is the green to greenish-blue variety of beryl. While there is not an agreed consensus on the precise degree of green that makes one stone an emerald and another a green beryl, generally green beryls are light green and emeralds are a deeper and darker green.
The emerald gets its name from the ancient Greek word for green – “smaragdus.” The first known emerald mines were in Egypt, dating back to 330 BC. There are many green gems, however the emerald is considered the most precious and is often associated with lush, rich green landscapes (Ireland is often referred to as the ‘Emerald Isle’).
Emerald is the most well-known of the beryl family, and there are many myths and legends about the emerald. The Incas had been using emeralds in their jewelry and ceremonies for 500 years when the Spanish arrived in the New World, and some legends say the stone can give the wearer the ability to see the future when placed under the tongue! Emerald was also believed to cure diseases such as cholera and malaria. One legend holds that emerald was one of the four precious stones given by God to King Solomon to give the king power over all creation.
Caring for Emerald Jewelry
Emeralds have fair-to-good toughness and, with proper care, work beautiful in all types of jewelry. Keep emeralds away from heat, as heat can extend existing fractures and damage the stone, and always store emeralds away from light and chemicals.
Always use warm soapy water and gentle scrubbing to clean emerald jewelry. Never use ultrasonic cleaners or steam to clean your emerald jewelry! The ultrasonic vibrations can weaken fractured stones and the steam can cause oil or resin to sweat out of filled fractures.