Nelsen's Fine Jewelry Birthstone Blog for May 2023

Nelsen's Fine Jewelry Birthstone Blog for May 2023

Hello, and welcome back to the Official Nelsen’s Fine Jewelry Birthstone Blog!

For the month of May, we’ll be taking a closer look at Emeralds. In this article, I’ll be outlining a brief history of emeralds, as well as listing the stones’ properties and shared characteristics with other similar gemstones, and of course, I’ll answer why May is the month of the emerald! So with nothing further, let’s look into the history of this gorgeous green gem.

Pictured here is a 5ct Beryl in it's original Hexagonal Shape after polishing from a rough.

The first documented findings of emeralds date all the way back to around 330 BCE through 1500 BCE in Egypt, which is where the first emerald mines were discovered. Cleopatra herself, was a big rock hound so-to-speak, who often wore jewelry set with brilliant emeralds.

Emeralds would later be discovered in South America around the 16th century which were used by Incan tribes for cultural adornment as well as warding off sicknesses by placing a small emerald under the tongue. Probably don’t wanna do that today, I’m sure we have green cough drops around here somewhere…  Anyway, it wasn’t until the late 90’s when emeralds were first discovered in North America, in the Yukon Territory. Here, I’ll include a link to a Canadian Mining Journal Article from 2004 that details the specifics of the discovery of Beryl in the Finlayson Yukon Territory of Canada. I highly recommend reading this one! 

Canadian Mining Journal Link

These Raw Emeralds were found in Brazil. Apparently, they weigh up to 600 lbs!

Let's talk about where emerald gets its name. Emerald is derived from the Ancient Greek word for “green gem” which is “Smaragdus”. Hey, with a name like that you have to ask why they didn’t just keep it? I mean, come on, that’s hilarious and unique! 

Other terms from which emerald got its name include: Esmeraude which is French, Emeraude which is Middle English and Esmaralda/Esmaraldus Which is Latin and subsequently translated back into “Smaragdus”. You see? All things begin and end with Smaragdus. My opinion stands!


Here we see the inclusions in an emerald under 10x Magnification

What’s a name without a family? Well, the emerald belongs to a family of minerals known as Beryl. Beryl itself is actually colorless in its purest form. It’s when traces of Chromium or Vanadium replace the Aluminum in the crystal where it takes on its green hue. Aquamarine is also a member of the Beryl family, which of course would mean that in order for it to receive its pale blue properties, other elemental substitutions need to occur. We all know there are dozens of different green stones, but only emeralds are “Emerald Green”. 

So why May? Well, according to our friends over at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), “Its color reflects new spring growth, which makes it the perfect choice of a birthstone for the month of May. It’s also the gemstone for twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries.” 

You hear that? Sounds like you get two opportunities to give emerald as an anniversary present in case your special someone doesn’t have a May birthday. Although, I’d hardly think anyone needs a “good” reason to buy a nice emerald!



We hope you enjoyed this little history lesson and brief overview of Emeralds! Be sure to stop into Nelsen’s Fine Jewelry soon to take a look at some of the Emeralds that we carry in the store! I’ll include a handy link here that should take you right to our Emerald Selection on our website!

Shop Emeralds

Works Cited in this article contains information from the following:

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