Happy Birthday, May! The May birthstone is the emerald.

Spring is traditionally a time of new growth and rebirth, and the stunningly intense green of the emerald evokes thoughts of spring. Emeralds often include tiny fractures, which the French call, jardin (garden), due to their resemblance to foliage.

The emerald, like several other prized gemstones, is a member of the beryl family of minerals. The stunning green crystals grow (slowly) within metamorphic rocks, which means that the size of the crystal is restricted in size by the rock, making large emeralds rare. While emeralds tend to be relatively hard and durable, the fractures found within the gems can make them susceptible to breaking.

The Spanish Conquistadors of the 16th century were stunned to find the native people of South America wearing Emeralds that were bigger and better than any they had ever seen, and they discovered and conquered most of the mines, including the Muzo mine in what is today’s Colombia. Colombia remains the source of today’s most prized Emeralds, but they can also be found in Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia.

Historically, gemstones were believed to protect the wearer. Today, each month has its own stone. Jewelry featuring the May birthstone emerald is a great option for a birthday gift or to commemorate any special occasion.