May's birthstone is the luscious green emerald. Variations of this rich green color suggest soothing, lush gardens and the perfect color for spring. Legend has it that emerald has the power to make its wearer more intelligent and quick-witted, and it was once believed to cure diseases. As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. Emerald, derived from the word “smaragdus” means, quite literally, “green” in Greek.
From Egyptian pharaohs to Inca emperors, emerald has enchanted royalty. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald and used it in her royal adornments. According to lore, its largest stone—now called the Atahualpa emerald—was taken from the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, by conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The emerald and gold treasures recovered from the sunken 17th century Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha represent a small fraction of the colonial riches sent to Spain from the New World.
Emerald gemstones were mined in Egypt as early as 330 BC, but some estimate that the oldest emeralds are 2.97 billion years old. Cleopatra is perhaps the most famous historical figure to cherish emerald gemstones. She even claimed ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign. Today Emeralds are found all over the world, including Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia.
Emerald is about a 7 on the Mohs scale of harness.
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