May is here, and with its green shoots and sense of rebirth, comes a renewed focus on emeralds, the fitting birthstone of May.
Twenty times more rare than colourless diamonds and credited with everything from curing snakebites to easing childbirth, emeralds have always had an aura of healing about them. Not surprisingly, these glittering green gems have been beloved by everyone from Cleopatra, who used to present them to subjects as talismans, to Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria and Elizabeth Taylor. Ancient Egyptians viewed them as sacred; early Christians believed they represented the resurrection of Christ; Indian Mughal emperors saw their greenness as an emblem of paradise; and Romans believed they could revitalise the souls of all who wore them.
These talismanic properties, coupled with their fresh verdant hue, make emeralds a perfect partner for the glorious month of May: when the land thaws, buds with flower and bursts into a haze of green.
Gemfields has been mining emeralds since 2008, when it acquired the Kagem mine in Zambia in partnership with the local government. Zambian emeralds are amongst the world’s most sought-after, thought to be more than 500 million years old, and more robust than other origins due to their high iron content. They are known for their extraordinarily deep colour and represent some of the largest and most exceptional emeralds ever found.
When looking to buy an emerald, it is important to bear a few things in mind. First, one should look for evenness of colour with good saturation and try to judge the gemstone in natural light to best assess this. Second, it is crucial to purchase your emerald from a source who can be trusted to have mined it with integrity and transparency and can present proof of this; if buying a significant gemstone, one might request a certificate from a trusted gemmological laboratory. Another consideration is how rare the gemstone is, as rarity is associated with higher value. Ultimately, though, it comes down to taste, as each emerald is utterly unique.
There are also a few cardinal rules when caring for emeralds. To avoid scratches, never store them next to a diamond – the hardest material known to man – or a ruby or sapphire, which are almost as hard. Emeralds can be quite fragile so must not be placed in an ultrasonic cleaner and should be kept away from liquids like perfumes and alcohols and removed before showering.
Without doubt, the greatest joy in owning an emerald is deciding how to style it. An emerald can take centre stage, juxtaposed against a gold band, when worn as a ring, as with Fabergé’s featuring Gemfields Cosmic Curve ring from the Colours of Love collection. In a similar classic style, with its sleek band of flawless emeralds, is the Valani Atelier x Gemfields Meredith bracelet. The Shachee Fine Jewellery x Gemfields Petrichor necklace makes imaginative use of emeralds, weaving gold into lace and reviving the micro mosaic to produce a piece that feels like wearable art.
But perhaps the most popular way to wear emeralds is as earrings, with a huge range of styles to choose from, from dangly to modest studs: the Margery Hirschey x Gemfields geometric-style drop earrings combine ancient techniques with a modern sensibility, while the Sandy Leong x Gemfields Oversized Origin hoops feature Gemfields’ Zambian emeralds alongside diamonds atop large gold hoops. For something smaller and more subtle, the Misahara x Gemfields Water Lily studs have a delicate floral motif, inspired by nature.
However, you choose to style them, emeralds are just the thing to impart the freshness of this joyous season.