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Diamonds and Emeralds: gemstones for April and May

By Staff | Apr 9, 2009

(Editors note: Six times each year, this column features the history, mythology, and facts surrounding various birthstones. April celebrates the bright brilliance of diamonds, and May enjoys the vibrant green of emeralds.)

Diamond

The name diamond comes from the Greek adamas, meaning invincible, probably a reference to the stones hardness. The brilliant white stones are thought to offer the wearer courage and strength. They are thought to bring bad luck to those who steal them, a myth that has come true over the years as a number of diamond thefts have ended in misfortune.

The Greeks said that diamonds were the tears of the gods and the Romans thought they were splinters of stars. These romantic viewpoints are echoed by society’s current use of diamonds as gifts for special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries.

The diamond is a form of carbon – one of the various allotropes of the element. There are many fancy or colored versions of the stone, which are created through the inclusion of other elements within the carbon.

Diamonds were first recognized and mined in India, where significant deposits of the stone could then be found many centuries ago along the country’s rivers. Diamonds have been known in India for at least 3,000 years but most likely 6,000 years. Roughly 49 percent of diamonds originate from central and southern Africa, although significant sources of the mineral have been discovered in Canada, India, Russia, Brazil, and Australia.

As well as its beauty, the diamond is known for its hardness. Few things can scratch a diamond and it has often been used for industrial purposes. This durability is probably the source of its use as a symbol of eternal love. However a diamond is not literally forever, even a diamond can be damaged if not cared for properly.

Along with being the birthstone for April, diamonds are the talisman for Aries as well as the gem that celebrates 10th and 75th wedding anniversaries.

Emerald

The word emerald is traditionally associated with a deep vibrant green, often with a slightly bluish tinge. Emeralds are actually a green variety of the beryl mineral species and can range in color from light to dark green, often having a blue or yellow tint. In order to be classified as an emerald, the color must be reasonable intense or the gem is simply called green beryl.

Over the centuries emeralds have been credited with a variety of magical powers including seeing the future, bringing the wearer riches and power, strengthening memory and intelligence, averting evil and revealing the truth. In ancient Egypt, where emeralds were first discovered, the gems green color symbolized life itself.

Columbia has been the world’s leading emerald producer since the 1500s. Today’s stones also come from Brazil and Zambia. Since Roman times many emeralds are fracture-filled to improve clarity and color appearance. Fillers may include colorless oils and natural or synthetic resins. If the fillers are dyed it is considered an additional treatment and should be disclosed to the purchaser.

Emeralds are naturally hard and scratch resistant, but require gentle wear due to their clarity characteristics.

Along with being the birthstone for May, emerald is the zodiac sign of Cancer as well as the gem that celebrates 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

The four-legged friends at Lily & Co., Lily and Gracie (plus their owners Sanibel-Captiva realtor Karen Bell and jeweler and G.I.A. diamondologist Dan Schuyler) will offer the latest jewelry trends and tips every other week. Lily & Co. is Sanibel’s only jewelry gallery, combining a fine jewelry store and art gallery in one location.

The gallery features several couture jewelry collections and the only collection of loose G.I.A. and A.G.S. certified diamonds, and colored stones. Lily & Co. is a full-service jeweler, offering jewelry repair and restoration, certified Rolex watch and clock repair, glass and metal hand engraving services, bead and pearl re-stringing, pewter and holloware repair and restoration, and appraisal services. Through our Positively Precious Program Lily & Co. purchases previously worn jewelry, stones, and fine stemware from customers for liquidation purposes.

Store hours are Monday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Lily & Co., call 472-2888 or visit www.lilyjewelers.com.