Saturday, May 2, 2020

The History of the Emerald: May's Birthstone

Blogger: Amber Schamel
May is my favorite month. The sights, sounds and smell of Spring as it finally arrives, the baby animals that can be seen all around, the fresh smell of rain on newly growing plant sprouts. It's just a lovely time of year! And it's my birthday month. But that doesn't make me biased at all. ;) 

I've always been fascinated with the birthstone of May, the emerald. It's a beautiful stone, and one with a rich history. So let's explore where this gem was first discovered, and how it has progressed through time. 

The first known emeralds were mined in Egypt around 1500 B.C. That's about the time that Moses was being called by God to return to Egypt and free the Israelites from slavery. So it is possible that Hebrew slaves were the ones to mine the very first diamonds from the earth. 

The Emerald was Cleopatra's favorite stone, and she was obsessed with them. One of the mines was located near the Red Sea, and she took that mine from the Greeks to have as her own. When visiting monarchs left Egypt, Cleopatra would present them with an Emerald etched with her own likeness as a departing gift. The lost mines of Cleopatra were rediscovered in 1817, although the supply of the precious stone was long exhausted.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the Emerald was more than just a beautiful stone. They believed it possessed the power to treat eye diseases, and that the green color gave it power of fertility and rebirth. Often they would bury the dead with Emeralds as a sign of eternal youth.

Later on, the Romans took over the obsession with Emeralds, although the main source was still Egypt. Pliny the Elder loved the gem, and asserted that nothing in existence could be greener. He too believed in it's power over the eyes, for he is quoted as saying that they “have no better method of restoring their eyes than by looking at the emerald, its soft, green color comforting and removing their weariness and lassitude.” Science today has found that indeed the color green does have the ability to reduce stress and eye strain. 
Columbian Emerald
Credit:Parent Géry / CC0

When European explorers came to the New World, they discovered a new and rich source of Emeralds in the country we know as Columbia. The Incas had been using the stones for at least 500 years, but it was plundered away from them by the Spanish conquerors. However, the Spaniards valued precious metals above precious stones, so they traded them for gold and silver, much to the delight of Asian and European monarchs. 

Today, Emeralds are still one of the most sought-after stones for jewelry pieces, and Columbia is still our major source. 

I just discovered that it is believed that wearing an emerald will expose the truth or falseness of a lover's oath...I wonder if that is why my husband presented me with an Emerald engagement ring. ;) Either way, it worked out perfectly, because it is not only my birthstone, but also a reminder of the month we got engaged. 💚

Happy May everyone! I hope you enjoy this month of green and new born life. 


Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  

She lives in Colorado Springs near her favorite mountain as a very happy newlywed.  

Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. Thanks for the post! Happy Birthday and Happy Engagement Anniversary as well. I love emeralds too.

    1. Thank you, Connie. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Which is your birthstone?

    2. Amber, I am October which is an opal!

  2. I loved the part in which you said that the emerald is revealing truth about an oath!
    I always thought that green is God's favourite colour cause it is predominantly found in nature! Very interesting article. I wish you could write one about each month...

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Perhaps I will start a series on the birthstones. :)