Aquamarine, the birthstone for March, is a blue to green-blue variety of precious beryl.
The gemstone’s name is Latin for ‘seawater’, and it is most famous for its extraordinary sea-like color. It is associated with courage, loyalty and friendship, and is said to heighten communication skills and awareness.
Aquamarine ranges in color from deep blue to a blueish green, and the variation is down to the amount of iron present in the beryl crystal. It is most often light-colored, and as such deeper-colored stones are more desirable and valuable. The color is also more intense in larger stones.
It is a very durable substance, measuring 7.5 to 8 on the Moh’s scale, which makes it very popular for jewelry provided it is treated with care and protected against scratching and hard knocks.
Aquamarine has been found in huge quantities, the largest of which was unearthed in Brazil at a weight of 110.5kg. However, some large finds of the gemstone have not even qualified for cutting due to being gray, opaque or just weak in color. Aquamarine is also found in Australia, Myanmar, China, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the USA.
It belongs to the same family as emerald, but the two stones are surprisingly different. While emerald tends to be hazy and full of inclusions, aquamarine boasts excellent clarity and transparency. It has an outstanding glass-like glow.
Aquamarine was considered sacred to Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea. Its general association with the sea made it a sacred gem for sailors, promising them a prosperous and safe voyage and protecting them against sea monsters. The Romans frequently used aquamarine in their jewelry, and gave it as wedding gifts to brides.
Folklore has considered it to be an effective treatment for anxiety, and in the Middle Ages it was thought aquamarine would reduce the effect of poisons. It was also used for fortune telling and the creation of crystal balls.
All of this history led to the impression that aquamarine stood as an optimistic, beneficial stone, and that’s why it became used for engagement jewelry.
Aquamarine is moderately priced, and its value depends mostly on the depth of its color.
Gems have been cut that weigh several hundred carats, but because they are too large to be worn the price of aquamarine does not vary a great deal in sizes above one carat.
Despite boasting great transparency, some beryl gemstones, and aquamarine in particular, are known for having distinctive hollow tubes. If there are enough of these, cats eyes or stars can be produced with certain cutting, and these are highly prized by collectors, demanding premium prices.
Aquamarine is commonly heat treated to remove a greenish tint which is normally found when it comes out of the ground.
The result is a more blue stone. The heat treatment process is completely unnoticeable with aquamarine, so it is done routinely.
Aquamarine’s cool color makes it a popular choice for spring and summer accessories and, as such, it’s a well-timed birthstone.
Tough and almost entirely free of exclusions, aquamarine is nearly as popular as the classics ruby, sapphire and emerald, and its extraordinary ocean color inspires gemstone designers to come up with artistic new cuts. The stone’s fine blue shades complement almost any skin or eye color.