For May babies,(and everyone else!) there are two lovely stones-emerald and agate.
Beautiful, green emeralds have been used in jewelry for thousands of years. They were considered to be a stone of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and a symbol of eternal life in ancient Egypt. Cleopatra loved emeralds and wore them constantly. She even had her own emerald mines! (It’s good to be the queen) Unfortunately for her, the eternal life thing didn’t work out so well. Elizabeth Taylor, who played the role of Cleopatra, also loved emeralds and received some stunning pieces from Richard Burton. If that ain’t love, I don’t know what is!
Emeralds are one of the four precious stones, the others being diamond, ruby and sapphire. Although it is 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, the emerald can be somewhat brittle as it tends to have a lot of inclusions and internal cracks. It is very rare to find a “clean” emerald and such a stone is worth 2-3 times the value of a diamond of the same size. The emerald cut was developed specifically to reduce the possibility of chipped corners. The colour comes from chromium and vanadium and the best emeralds come from Columbia, Brazil and Zambia.
What to put them with? Silver or white gold is beautiful, especially if the emerald’s colour is more of a bluish-green. Many people prefer gold for their emeralds, which looks very rich, especially if it’s a crown you’re making!
Now for those of you who can’t afford emeralds right now, (there’s always hope!) consider agate. There are many beautiful types of agate found all over the world that you can use to make unique jewelry.
The name agate comes from the Achetes River in Sicily where the stones were found thousands of years ago. They were used in jewelry in Neolithic times and ancient India as well. In Germany, there was a flourishing agate and jasper cutting industry at Idar-Oberstein, first using local agates and then agates shipped from Brazil. The level of craftsmanship in these stones is very high and if you can get your hands on some, do it! Agates come in all colours and different patterns,depending on where they are from. My favourites are eye agates which either have naturally-occurring bands of colour which create the illusion of an eye, or are shaped to look like an eye. It is believed that eye agates will protect you from the evil eye and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from that!
Agates lend themselves well to a variety of jewelry styles and metals. You can make them look very sleek and modern, or handmade like an ancient artifact. Agate is a form of microcrystalline quartz and is 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale which makes it a superb stone for working with. And with so many colours and patterns, it is a stone that you will never get tired of.
So, whether you’re looking for love, need protection or have a birthday in May, there’s something here for you!