What's the Birthstone for May?

Written By Allie Perry May 3, 2024

What’s the Birthstone for May?

If you celebrate your birthday in May, your birthstone is the lush, deep green emerald. Boasting a color in perfect harmony with the arrival of spring, the name "emerald" is derived from the Greek word "smaragdos," which means green precious stone (they really nailed it, there).

Symbols of rebirth and love, emeralds boast a storied past, steeped in myth and lore. Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians revered emeralds not only for their beauty but also for their purported magical properties, including enhancing fertility and love. Cleopatra was famously fond of emeralds, and used them in her royal adornments. According to legend, emeralds were also thought to grant the power of foresight and were associated with the goddess Venus, reinforcing their link to love and beauty.

While you may always associate emeralds with a vibrant green, they can actually range in color from lighter bluish-green to a deep, intense green. The presence of chromium and sometimes vanadium in the mineral beryl gives emeralds their rich hue, but don’t worry- there won’t be a quiz.

The allure of emeralds is further magnified by their rarity and the unique inclusions within them. These quality characteristics are often referred to as "jardin," or garden, because they resemble foliage. These characteristics not only make each emerald unique but are also considered by many to add to the gemstone's intrinsic beauty.

These are some varieties of Emerald:

  1. Colombian Emeralds: These are arguably the most prized, known for their transparent, deep green color without any hints of yellow or brown. The most famous mines are located in the Muzo and Chivor regions of Colombia.
  1. Brazilian Emeralds: Typically lighter and brighter than their Colombian counterparts, Brazilian emeralds can also show a fine, intense green color. They are often less included than other varieties.
  1. Zambian Emeralds: Known for their fine bluish-green color, Zambian emeralds often have excellent transparency and fewer inclusions, making them highly desirable.
  1. Panjshir Emeralds: Hailing from Afghanistan, these emeralds are recognized for their high quality and vibrant green hues. The Panjshir Valley has been a significant source since ancient times.

Each variety of emerald has its own distinctive features, from the depth of green to the type and amount of inclusions, so as a collector you might favor certain sources based on these characteristics.

Historic symbolic meanings of Emerald:

Emeralds have enchanted various cultures throughout history, and they carry rich symbolic meanings:

  • Renewal and Rebirth: Their vibrant green color symbolizes the lushness of the natural world, renewing itself each spring. It is believed to renew the spirit and body by fostering growth and reflection.
  • Romance and Love: As a symbol of Venus, the goddess of love, emeralds are thought to promote commitment and contentment in relationships.
  • Wisdom and Foresight: Historically, emeralds were believed to endow the wearer with the ability to foresee future events and reveal truths.
  • Healing and Protection: Ancient beliefs also held that emeralds could cure diseases like cholera and malaria and protect against evil spells and enchantments.

Throughout history, the emerald has been cherished not only for its aesthetic beauty but also for its symbolic significance, serving as a source of inspiration, protection, and spiritual enlightenment for countless generations.

How do I take care of my Emerald:

Maintaining the beauty of emerald jewelry requires care and attention:

  • Avoid Exposure to Heat and Sunlight: Emeralds are sensitive to heat and prolonged exposure to sunlight, which can cause the color to fade.
  • Avoid Impact: The same inclusions that make emeralds unique also make them prone to breakage with a strong impact.
  • Gentle Cleaning: Use only mild soap and warm water with a soft brush, as emeralds are frequently fracture-filled with materials that can be damaged by ultrasonic or steam cleaning.
  • Avoid Chemicals: Household chemicals can alter the appearance of fracture-filled emeralds, so it’s wise to remove emerald jewelry before cleaning or handling harsh substances.
  • Professional Maintenance: Regular check-ups with a professional jeweler can help ensure the setting is secure and the stone remains in good condition.

By following these simple care tips, you can ensure that your emerald jewelry remains beautiful and sparkling for years to come. 

If you'd like more in-depth information about each birthstone including meaning and history, where these stones can be found in nature, and proper care and cleaning, be sure to explore this article from the Gemological Institute of America! 


Allie is the owner and goldsmith behind Allie Perry Designs.

Learn more about her here, or connect with her on Instagram!

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