The splendid emerald is the birthstone for the month of May known for its rich yet transparent green color. Emeralds are plentiful all across the world including Madagascar, India, Russia, and even Hiddenite, North Carolina.
Unlike the diamond, emeralds are prone to breakage but they make for bold and stunning gems in jewelry designs.
A beryl mineral--the emerald is a variation of this mineral--can range in color from yellowish-green or bluish-green but the color must be medium or dark to be categorized as an emerald.
In order to improve their clarity, emeralds are treated with oils, such as cedar oil, to get better light refraction. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission requires jewelers to disclose oil treatments whenever an emerald is sold.
According to folklore, emeralds are said to possess calming properties for those suffering emotional anguish or anxiety. They are said to provide clarity of mind and increase memory function, and they symbolize harmony, peace, and love.
One of the most famous emeralds, believed to have once belonged to a maharani, is the 38-carat Chalk Emerald, found in Colombia. The gem was recut and placed in a ring setting, surrounded by 60 pear-shaped diamonds, by Harry Winston . The Chalk Emerald is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
The largest specimen of emerald in the world--allegedly--was on display last year at the Matrix Exhibition in Hong Kong. The emerald was reported to have been found in Morafeno, Madagascar in 2007.
To view spectacular photographs of this emerald go to Mindat.org (the site says you can click on the photos for better resolution).
Photo (top center): Chalk Emerald