Emerald, the birthstone for May, has been beloved for millennia, evoking rebirth and renewal. Widely regarded as the definition of green, emerald is the perfect color for spring. From the poetic description of Ireland as “the Emerald Isle” to the vibrant green of the famed gemstone itself—the May birthstone emerald has captured hearts and minds through the ages.
Variations of this rich green color suggest soothing, lush gardens. Legend has it that emerald has the power to make its wearer more intelligent and quick-witted, and it was once believed to cure diseases like cholera and malaria. Today, it's the gemstone given for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
From Egyptian pharaohs to Inca emperors, emerald has enchanted royalty. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald and used it in her royal adornments. The legendary Crown of the Andes, fashioned in colonial South America, is one example of how the Spanish revered the May birthstone. According to lore, its largest stone—now called the Atahualpa emerald—was taken from the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, by conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The emerald and gold treasures recovered from the sunken 17th century Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora De Atocha represent a small fraction of the colonial riches sent to Spain from the New World.