May 1, 2012

Colour of the Month :: Emerald :: May's Birthstone

A new month beckons as the year is marching along, 
and with May comes one of the most glorious of birthstones,
the intensely coloured emerald,
one of the group of four precious stones.
(The others are diamond, ruby and sapphire.)

Interestingly, the term "precious" relates more to the status
held by the stones in ancient times, rather than their actual current value.
It is also a measure of their hardness & clarity.
Emeralds are valued with the "4Cs" used for all coloured gemstones,
which are Colour, Cut, Clarity & Crystal.
Crystal refers to the diaphanous luminosity, or transparency, of the gem,
with a more valuable emerald being a more transparent one.

They can be a "natural" cut,
like the stone in this bracelet,
or they can, more traditionally, be "oiled" as they are polished,
to produce the more familiar brilliant cut,
using cedar oil,
 which has the same refraction index as the emerald itself.

In the ancient world, 
emeralds were found in India, Egypt, Pakistan & Austria.
They are a form of the mineral beryl,
itself a colourless gem,
but the presence of chromium creates the intense green hue.
These stones sometimes also have trace amounts 
of the metal valadium present. 
In the 1960s, the American jewelery industry allowed 
valadium-bearing beryl stones to also be classified as emeralds.
However, this is not recognised in most other countries,
thus the name "Columbian emerald" is used to signify the difference.

To be classed as an emerald, the beryl must be of a medium to dark tone.
Otherwise, if paler, it must be simply called a "green beryl".

It's a tone which has long been favoured by interior designers
for it's inherent dramatic ability.
Especially wonderful in dining rooms, entries & hallways,
emerald green can add a sumptuous atmosphere.
Green is a secondary colour,
made from mixing the primary colours of blue and yellow.
The tone we associate as "emerald green" is pretty much in the centre
of the green tones : that is, with neither too much yellow nor blue.
It can be pale or dark, bright or soft,
but emerald is always a vibrant colour.
Dramatic, precious, bold and sumptuous,
the emerald is truly one of the most luminous of stones
and one of the most exciting colours in the spectrum.

So if you were born in May, 
this is your stone, and your colour.
But, as always, you cannot be greedy,
because the rest of us may just turn green with envy if you don't share!

To see the other birthstones, click here.

images :: emerald artwork blue fruit // pool // green dress on stair // art deco bracelet //


  1. I have always thought emeralds to be one of the most glamorous of stones. So mysterious. And so these had me just over the moon. Not to mention that room in Cuba (aaah) and a dream version of me in that Oscar gown!!! ;)

    1. Well she does have red hair, so I figured it actually was you Heather. And the room in Cuba, oh yes, so wonderful with both the luminosity of the colour as well as the crumblingness of the wall - I love that.

  2. Hello Virginia:
    What a truly inspirational collection of wonderful 'emerald' images for this first day of May. Isn't the house with its 'grass' covered walls quite extraordinary? But in a very odd way we find it quite appealing.

    1. And I am very intrigued by the impossible stairs which lead to nowhere too!

  3. Wonderful post...super inspiring pictures.
    -Eva Maria

    1. Hello Eva Maria. Delighted you enjoyed them.

  4. The skirt! the wall! sapphire used to be my favorite but now I think its emerald.

  5. Mel@Georgica Pond2/5/12 4:38 PM

    That first dress stopped me in my tracks. Stunning.

  6. Oh that table and chairs are amazing, I really want to find a an emerald green dress pronto. I keep missing your posts, I don't know why.


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