May's Birthstone: History & Meaning Behind The Emerald

September 12, 2022
Birthstones , Gemstones

Every month of the year is ruled by one or more gemstones known as birthstones, which are believed to indicate certain traits. May’s birthstone is the emerald. 

Create a custom jewelry piece today!

Creating a custom jewelry piece with Bling Advisor is a fantastic way to make a piece your own while investing in a high-quality, lasting piece of fine jewelry.


Birthstone jewelry is a popular present for push gifts, anniversaries, and other important events. In this post, we will look further into the meanings, properties, and history of May’s birthstone, the Emerald.

What is May’s Birthstone?

Emeralds have been May’s birthstone for centuries. These beautiful gems represent new beginnings, hope, and success. Emeralds have also been linked with fertility and motherhood.

The emerald is a member of the beryl family and is typically a rich green color to a bluish-green color. The gem comes from the Greek word “Smaragdus,” which means green stone. Emeralds are found worldwide, but some of the most valuable gems come from South America.

yellow gold band with may's birthstone, emerald

How Rare Is May’s birthstone?

Emeralds are the rarest of all birthstones, and emerald gems are typically more valuable than diamonds. The value of an emerald is determined by its color and clarity, but emerald stones with a few exceptions may be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars per carat, depending on their size.

The largest emerald ever discovered was in Brazil and weighed over 750 pounds! The Bahia Emerald, as it came to be known, is said to be worth over 925 million dollars and currently sits in a vault in Los Angeles amid legal battles for the birthstone. (

When Should You Offer a Emerald, May’s Birthstone to Someone?

To Celebrate a Milestone:

Emerald birthstone rings, emerald birthstone pendants, and other emerald jewelry are wonderful gifts to offer someone who has reached a certain milestone in their life like graduating college or a career goal.

Push Present:

Emeralds are the perfect push present because they symbolize love, abundance, and beauty, making emerald jewelry a perfect gift for Mom!


Emeralds can also be used in wedding bands or engagement rings to represent the month of May when many couples get married.  Emerald stones may also be combined with diamonds on anniversary bands that commemorate milestones like wedding anniversaries.

How Are Emeralds Used In Jewelry?

Emeralds are most often used in jewelry as a center stone in rings, necklaces, and earrings. Emeralds can also be set into bracelets, watches, and other types of jewelry. 

Emeralds are a popular choice for engagement rings, and emerald jewelry is often given as a gift to celebrate the month of May.

birthstone of may

The History Of The Emerald

Emeralds were one of the first gemstones discovered, and they have been popular among royalty and other wealthy people for centuries. 

Emerald jewelry has been found in tombs dating back to ancient Egypt, and it is thought that these gems were used as amulets to protect the deceased in the afterlife.  Emeralds were also popular in ancient Rome, where emerald rings were given as a sign of loyalty and love.

The emerald was the birthstone for May during medieval times; however, it was changed to the amethyst when Pope Paul II decided he wanted the emerald to be his birthstone instead. After taking some time off from being associated with May, the emerald returned as the official gem of this month in 1912.

Origin of the Emerald

The emerald is a member of the beryl family, which includes aquamarine, morganite, and heliodor. The emerald gets its green color from trace amounts of chromium and vanadium.

Beryls are found all over the world, but some of the most valuable gems come from Columbia, where emeralds have been mined for centuries. Other notable sources include Zambia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Afghanistan, and India. 

Interesting fact: Emeralds can also be found in the United States. Beaver County, Utah is home to rough emerald production in the US. The mines are located on the eastern slopes of the Wah Wah Mountains.

emerald birthstone

Color and Appearance of Emeralds

Emeralds come in various shades, but they are typically a rich green hue to a bluish-green color. Some emeralds may also have yellow, brown, or black spots, known as inclusions. The finest emeralds have the clearest and brightest green color with no inclusions.

How are Emeralds categorized?

Emeralds are typically categorized by their size, weight, and quality. The most common system used to grade emeralds is the four Cs: Carat, Cut, Clarity, and Color.

Care for Emeralds

As with any other gemstone, emeralds should be handled with care. The best way to clean emeralds is to gently scrub them with a solution of warm water mixed with light soap. When not being worn, emerald jewelry should be stored in a fabric-lined box or pouch away from other jewelry to avoid scratches.

Scientific and Physical Properties of Emeralds


Emeralds are a reasonably hard gemstone, and they rank between a seven and an eight on the Mohs hardness scale, which means emerald jewelry can stand up to daily wear. However, the emerald should always be handled carefully, as small chips or scratches can occur if emerald jewelry is not treated gently.


The emerald generally weighs heavier than other gemstones of similar size because of its density.


Due to their crystal structure, the emerald has perfect cleavage in one direction meaning emerald gemstone may break easily if not handled carefully enough. Additionally, emerald stones that have been subjected to heat treatment may develop cracks when exposed to extreme temperature changes, such as going from cold temperatures outdoors into warm indoor air.

Refractive Index:

Emeralds have a unique birefringence meaning emerald gems appear to be double when viewed through the facet. This is because emeralds have two refractive indexes, splitting light into different paths as it moves through the gem.


Emeralds also have a high dispersion rating which means they disperse light into a rainbow of colors.

Two-Tone Lab Emerald and Diamond Ring may birthstones

In Summary

Emeralds are one of the most valuable gemstones, and emerald jewelry makes a beautiful gift for May babies. Emerald stones symbolize love, abundance, and beauty, making emerald gems a perfect choice for a push present, an anniversary with emerald engagement rings, or emerald wedding bands.

Get in touch with one of our associates to build your own custom emerald piece.

Schedule a Virtual Call with one of our Advisors

Get Started

Searching for emerald jewelry online? Discover our collection of the finest emeralds to add to your jewelry collection here.

Read about April’s Birthstone, or June’s Birthstone.

Shopping cart


No products in the cart.