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Emerald: Everything you need to know about May’s enchanting birthstone

Prized for its brilliant green colour, which is thought to symbolise growth, reflection and fertility, the Emerald is the birthstone of May. Learn all about its fascinating history and the mystical and spiritual properties that surround them, as well as how to care for your emeralds, below.


History of emeralds

The history of emerald mining can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, around 330BC when emeralds were found in abundance in mines by The Red Sea. Egypt then became the major source of emeralds in the world with Cleopatra, who reputedly had a real passion for them, using them in all her royal adornments.

This changed however in the early 1500s when Spanish explorers invaded the New World and discovered that there were higher quality emeralds in what is now present-day Colombia. As they treasured gold and silver more than gems, their trades opened up the gemstones to the European and Asian markets.

To this day, emeralds remain an emblem of wealth, style and beauty with many iconic women, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, admitting to have fallen in love with the gemstone.


Emerald symbolism, myths and beliefs

With such a complex set of symbolisms and beliefs linked to it, there are few gems that convey as much mystery as the emerald. The Egyptians believed that emeralds stood for rebirth and fertility while Arab, Hindu and Spanish physicians used to use emeralds to protect against poison and infection with many also believing they could protect against demonic possession.  The ancient Greeks similarly believed that emeralds could stop people having seizures and that they would help the bearer succeed in legal matters by making him a more persuasive speaker.

In modern times, emeralds are still considered one of the best gemstones for attracting love, boosting self-esteem and restoring confidence. They’ve also been proven to have calming effects and can even promote creativity and focus.



Emerald style tips

If you’re looking to add a bit of sophistication and style to your outfit, emerald jewellery is a great way to go. Green emeralds combine well with other gems that have blue, yellow or brown hues but also work particularly well with cooler skin tones. Similarly, as red is the complementary colour of green, emeralds are sure to look great with any outfit that features red as it’s main colour.


How to care for emeralds

As a general rule, you should clean your emeralds a few times a year to keep them in perfect condition. Since emeralds undergo oil treatment to fill fissures and enhance durability, you should avoid using ultrasonic devices or commercial jewellery cleaners as these can cause permanent damage. Instead, the best way to care for your jewellery is to gently clean the stone with a soft soapy cloth before rinsing it lightly with warm water.

Alternatively, if you’d rather get them professionally cleaned, at McGowan’s we offer a specialised cleaning service on pieces both old and new. Find out more here. (link to services page)

As emeralds are so soft, storing them correctly is equally important. Always make sure your emerald jewellery is stored in separate compartments in your jewellery box and wrapped individually in tissue or soft cloths to avoid scratches. Your jewellery box should also be kept in a cool dry spot to prevent damage from heat.

Under the current circumstances, we have had to temporarily close our stores. However, we look forward to welcoming you back through our door when it is safe to do so. Keep an eye on our website for more information on our re-opening.