Emeralds are the birthstone for May. They are a beryl, like aquamarine, and are a luminescent green. Really fine emeralds are very clear and can range in color from a bluish green to a pale green. Emeralds were mined in Egypt, perhaps as early as 1300 BCE. When the conquistadores came to South America, they discovered emeralds like they had never seen before; spectacularly large and clear. These emeralds were shipped in large quantities back to Spain. Spanish royals held a monopoly on wearing these precious gems for some time, although eventually there were so many emeralds sent to Europe that they became somewhat devalued. As emeralds became more difficult to mine in South America, new deposits were found in Russia and fashion dictated for a time that those were the most desirable.
Last year in Tucson, we were able to get some wonderful emerald nuggets from Columbia from a stonecutter from Brazil. This year, by the time we got to see him, Chinese vendors had bought him out. We asked if he was likely to get more over the course of the year, and if we could have them sent to us from Brazil. He told us that buying emeralds was a fraught process, as the mines in Columbia are run by cartels and that they are difficult to negotiate for. He said they always worked through intermediaries and he had no idea when or whether he would be able to get more.
In terms of their supernatural powers, ancients considered emeralds to have been good for eyesight, for warding off snakes, to have heightened mental powers and to have encouraged fecundity. Modern interpretations place emerald as a heart chakra stone and a water element. Emeralds are felt to encourage a strong and open heart, to encourage and strengthen both the physical and emotional heart. This heart clarity also allows for the possibility of the growth of prosperity, and so emerald is also considered to be a wealth stone.