Brighton (03) 9593 2197  |   Canterbury (03) 9830 5600

Make an Appointment

  Brighton (03) 9593 2197  |   Canterbury (03) 9830 5600

May Birthstone: Symbolism, and History of the Emerald Gem

March 30, 2023

If you were born in May, your birthstone is the exquisite emerald. Emeralds are notoriously stunning and expensive. For centuries, this precious stone has been attributed to wealth and status. Even Cleopatra, one of the most notable rulers of Ancient Egypt, famously favoured emeralds. But the emerald has a rich history beyond being famous for its royal looks. 

Below, we detail the symbolism and history of the emerald. Whether you’re a May birthday yourself or looking to customise your next gift for the May-birthday in your life, emerald jewellery in Australia will be the perfect present.


The History of Emeralds


Initial Discovery

We don’t know precisely when the first emeralds were unearthed. However, archeological evidence indicates that the first emerald mines were in Egypt. These were the Sikair-Zubara mines, later known as Cleopatra’s Mines. Cleopatra loved emeralds so much that she claimed ownership of all Egyptian emerald mines during her rule. Astonishingly, these mines were rediscovered in 1816 by French mineralogist Frederic Cailiaud. 


Emeralds and Legends of Mysterious Cities

Ancient legends mention Indian cities of fabulous wealth and beauty. These offered descriptions of walls and even entire temples made of the world’s most precious stones, emeralds. Images of emerald and ruby adornments suggested that those who located these cities were among the most fortunate in the world.

When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Americas and found abundant stores of emeralds and gold, they believed they had found these mysterious cities. Central and South America now host some of the most sought-after emerald mines.


Emeralds and the Tale of Goddess Unima

Many are stunned by the magnificent beauty of the May birthstone. Some even believe that it has powers related to love and healing. But did you know that there were people who worshipped this stunning green gemstone? 

Before the Spanish Conquest, the Peruvian people of Manta worshipped an ostrich-sized ‘Mother Emerald,’ which they called Unima. Goddess Unima was only brought out at feasts, and it was believed that offerings of smaller ‘daughter emeralds’ must be made to worship her.

When the Spanish conquered the town, they seized the locals’ collection of emeralds. However, they were unable to find the Mother Emerald. Was this plain bad luck on their part, was its existence a fable, or was its disappearance divine intervention from the goddess herself? Historians, archeologists, and mineralogists have been unable to provide an answer or rediscover the gem.


Emeralds and Christianity

The most sacred Christian text, the Bible, mentions emeralds several times. In Christian tradition, the stone symbolises resurrection into a purer life. When referencing the Christian prophet, Jesus, the emerald symbolises his kindness and goodness.

Christian clergy members in the Middle Ages often wore the stone on their hands to signify their association with the Church. Back then, religious positions gave non-royal individuals power. As a result, the emerald became a signifier of status. Today, this gemstone is associated with affluence, given that the most expensive pieces can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Emeralds In Modern History


During the Mughal Reign

The rulers of the vast Mughal empire prized emeralds. Merchants tried to find the finest quality emeralds for the rulers of the Indian subcontinent. Initially mined in Colombia, but brought to India during Aurangzeb’s era, the Mogul Mughal Emerald is one of the largest emeralds known–it weighs 217.80 carats!


As Crown Jewels of Iran

Emeralds representing affluence and royalty also extended to Middle Eastern cultures, including Iran. The Iranian National Jewels are a collection of crowns, tiaras, swords, shields, and other pieces adorned by Persian rulers throughout history. This enormous collection features an exorbitant amount of emeralds, including a globe made entirely of them.


The Symbolism of the May Birthstone

What do the different types of emeralds symbolize today? The answer is love and emotional healing. 


Emblems of Truthful Love

Emeralds represent honesty and emotional vulnerability in many cultures today. It is believed that an emerald will help you determine if your feelings towards a love interest come from genuine love, or fleeting attraction. Wearing one is said to dampen lust, allowing you to ascertain if the love you feel is true. 


Stones With Emotional Healing Powers

An emerald, with all its glitz and glamour, exudes opulence. But underneath it all, the stone radiates positive energy to the mind and heart. Thus, an emerald can give you the power to forgo a victim mindset, build valuable relationships, and take the world head-on!

Emeralds and You

While the exact symbolic meaning of emeralds has evolved over time, they remain one of the most valuable gemstones with a long history of positive associations. Whether you want to feel like royalty yourself or give a loved one the gem of healing and empowerment, emeralds are the perfect choice.

Subscribe to our Newsletter & Special Offers

You May Also Like