Welcome, May, and your majestic birthstone, the Emerald!
Emeralds are one of the four "cardinal" gemstones, alongside diamonds, sapphires and rubies. Perfect emeralds are very rare. Because they are so susceptible to flaws, the industry allows them to be graded with the naked eye (that is, without magnification). This allows them a bit of a "reprieve" from the harsh standards of other rare gemstones—as almost no samples would pass muster under rigid scrutiny. It an Emerald looks perfect to the naked eye, it is considered flawless. The most valuable color is a deep green, but one that is very clear and bright.
Emeralds are a variety of Beryl and its green coloration is due to chromium "impurities" trapped within the stone's chemical structure. Egyptians mined them from 1500 BC and legend has it that Cleopatra decorated her body and her palace with the gemstone. They have been mined in Austria and India since the 1300's. In 1535, Emeralds were discovered by Spanish explorers in Columbia (which remains the largest source of emeralds to this day). Emeralds have been credited with increasing fertility, providing immortality, conferring riches, power and eloquence, strengthening memory, counter-acting poisoning or infection, and empowering its wearer to predict the future.
The Italian Modernist vase, shown above, does not contain emeralds. But the green glazings are reminiscent of the verdant stone. It was made by Bitossi in Florence, Italy, in the 1960's. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248