May's Birthstones: Emerald and Agate

May is my favorite month of the year...spring really comes into full bloom, the ground has thawed and we can start mining again, I can break out the kayak, and it just so happens that my birthday is in May too! Like I said, it's my favorite month.

Emerald is the traditional birthstone of May. Emeralds can be very beautiful striking green stones, but also brittle and riddled with fractures. For this reason, most emeralds on the market are highly treated with oils and polymers to disguise the fractures, a practice that has been going on for centuries. For that reason, along with their primarily international origins, I haven't had much opportunity to work with this beautiful gemstone.

Though rare, there are emeralds found in the USA, mostly in North Carolina. Jared and I are hoping to do a little searching for emeralds ourselves this August, when we make the trek to Charlotte to visit our new baby niece or nephew (we'll find out which when he/she is born!).

Emeralds are a type of beryl which are given their green color by the element chromium. Interestingly, there are also green beryls colored by the element vanadium, but the gem and mineral community is at odds over whether this should be classified as emerald as well, or only those crystals colored by vanadium. Other types of beryl which are colored by other elements include blue aquamarine, pink morganite, and yellow heliodor. 

I haven't been lucky enough yet to source an untreated North Carolina emerald for my jewelry, but I can share with you two necklaces I've made with May's alternative birthstone, agate. Beautiful varying agates are found all across the USA, and range in color and design as much as you could possibly imagine. Agates are really incredible in that way.

Here's a necklace with Plume agate, which comes from Custer County in Idaho. This is a really special sparkly piece that was cut by a lapidary artist in Maine. I paired it with a rose quartz gem from Maine and a topaz gem that was mined in Utah. I love the peaceful colors in this piece.

Here's another example of agate that shows what diversity there is in this beautiful family of stones! This purple stone is called Sowbelly amethyst agate and was mined at the Last Chance mine in Creed Creek, Colorado, and cut by the same lapidary artist in Maine. I paired it with a grey/white/lilac Montana sapphire.

I'm looking forward to heading down to NC in August and will be sure to post about any finds we have (and of course pics of the new baby I'm sure!). Hope that you have some excitement in your summer as well. :)

Laurie Lynn Berezin
Laurie Lynn Berezin


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