The month of May has two official birthstones associated with it: the emerald and the chrysoprase. Both of these gemstones make beautiful and unique birthstone jewelry gifts for those born in May.
The emerald is the most well-known birthstone for the month of May. This lustrous green gemstone has been prized for thousands of years and was once believed to have magical powers and the ability to foretell the future. Here are some key facts about the emerald:
- Natural emeralds are formed from the mineral beryl and contain traces of chromium which give them their vivid green color.
- The word “emerald” comes from the Greek word “smaragdos” meaning green gem.
- Emeralds are rated on their color saturation, tone, and clarity. The most prized emeralds have a deep green hue.
- Colombia is the world’s largest producer of emeralds, accounting for over half of the global supply.
- Emeralds were one of Cleopatra’s favorite gemstones and ancient Egyptian pharaohs often had emeralds buried with them.
- In astrology, emeralds are associated with the planet Mercury.
- Emeralds are said to bring wisdom, growth, and patience to those who wear them.
Here is an overview of the key qualities that determine an emerald’s value:
|Vivid green saturation is most desirable. Bluish-green is less valued.
|Fewer inclusions and blemishes increase value.
|Precision faceting to maximize brilliance.
|Larger emeralds are more rare and valuable.
|Colombian emeralds command the highest prices.
Due to their rarity, large, high-quality emeralds can be extremely valuable. The most expensive emerald ever sold was a Colombian emerald ring that went for over $5.5 million at auction in 2022.
The second birthstone for May is the chrysoprase. This is a variety of chalcedony, which is a cryptocrystalline form of silica. Here are some key facts about this lesser-known gem:
- Chrysoprase has a bright apple-green color.
- It is colored by trace amounts of nickel.
- The word “chrysoprase” comes from the Greek “chrysos” meaning gold and “prason” meaning leek.
- Deposits have been found in Australia, Brazil, India, Madagascar, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and the United States.
- Chrysoprase is relatively inexpensive compared to many gemstones.
- It is often used in beads, cabochons, tumbled stones, and other ornamental pieces.
- Chrysoprase is said to bring happiness, grace, and balance.
Here is a comparison of some key attributes between emeralds and chrysoprase:
|Expensive, high value
|Translucent to opaque
|Inexpensive, low value
As you can see, emeralds and chrysoprase vary significantly when it comes to color, clarity, hardness and monetary value. But they make a lovely pair as the two May birthstones!
May Birthstone Jewelry
Those born in May are lucky to have not just one, but two gorgeous birthstone options when it comes to jewelry. Here are some beautiful ways to wear emeralds and chrysoprase:
- Emerald rings – Set in yellow or white gold, emeralds make stunning engagement rings and anniversary bands.
- Emerald necklaces – A glittering emerald pendant is the perfect statement necklace.
- Emerald earrings – From elegant studs to dangling drops, emerald earrings add a pop of color.
- Chrysoprase beads – Strung into a bracelet or necklace, apple-green chrysoprase beads have an earthy appeal.
- Chrysoprase pendants – Worn on a gold chain, a polished chrysoprase pendant makes a lovely accessory.
- Stacking rings – Mix several emerald and chrysoprase stacking rings for a trendy look.
When shopping for May birthstone jewelry, look for reputable jewelers who source stones ethically and responsibly. Make sure any emeralds you buy have been tested and certified. Also, consider having the chrysoprase or emerald set in a protected bezel setting rather than prong setting which can chip softer stones.
Where to Buy May Birthstones
You can find gorgeous emerald and chrysoprase jewelry from these recommended retailers:
- Online jewelers like Blue Nile and Brilliant Earth
- Local jewelry stores
- Vintage and estate jewelry dealers
- Gem shows
- Etsy shops for unique, handmade settings
When selecting a stone, look for a reputable seller that provides certification from independent gemological labs like GIA, AGS or Gubelin. This helps ensure the quality of whichever May birthstone you choose.
For an emerald, prioritize color over clarity since flaws are expected. Look for a rich, vibrant green hue. For chrysoprase, look for a bright apple-green color with few visible veins. Opaque, even color is ideal.
If buying a finished jewelry piece, examine the workmanship closely. High quality settings use durable metals like 14k or 18k gold and secure stone settings. With proper care, May birthstone jewelry can become a beloved heirloom.
How to Care for May Birthstones
To keep your May birthstone jewelry looking its best, be mindful of these care tips:
- Store pieces separately to prevent scratching. Soft cloth pouches work well.
- Clean with warm water, mild soap and soft brush. Avoid harsh chemicals.
- Take care when wearing to avoid knocks, falls and other damage.
- Remove during physical activities, gardening, cleaning, etc.
- Have stones checked and settings inspected yearly.
- Consider having valuable emeralds re-oiled every few years to maintain clarity.
By following these tips, your emerald or chrysoprase jewelry will maintain its natural beauty and last a lifetime. The May birthstones make wonderful heirlooms to pass down.
May babies are gifted two glittering birthstone options – the precious emerald and the charming chrysoprase. Emeralds have enduring allure as one of the big four precious gemstones, loved since ancient times for their lush green color. Chrysoprase offers a more affordable apple-green alternative with its own particular appeal. Those born in May are lucky to have not one, but two beautiful birthstones steeped in meaning and history. Whether set in a ring, pendant or earrings, May birthstones make perfect gifts and keepsakes for yourself or a loved one celebrating a May birthday.