May – Birthstones & More

May’s traditional birthstone – and alternatives

emerald cabochon

The traditional birthstone for May is the emerald.   Emeralds are a deep green beryl and most emeralds are clouded with inclusions so nice quality emeralds can be pricey.  The green color comes from chromium.  Deposits of emeralds are found in Columbia (the best dark green stones), Brazil  (lighter green to yellow stones), Africa countries and elsewhere.  Emeralds are sensitive to knocks, so you might not want to choose one for a ring unless it has a protective setting.  (The term “precious beryl” describes other beryls that are used as gems.  Morganite is a specific soft pink to salmon and purple.  Beautiful blue aquamarine is also a beryl species.)

oval agate in sterling silver wire pendant

If you want to choose a different stone there are alternatives to your traditional birthstone – agate and sapphire are the most common alternatives. An agate necklace pictured here. Agates are chalcedony and are frequently found with multicolored bands.  Agates occur as ball shaped nodules that reveal their colors when cut open.  Sapphire is another alternative and sapphires come in lots of colors.  

Here’s a link to a fascinating article on alternative birthstones.  I never realized how many places you could look to find a stone you prefer to the traditional choice.