Aquamarines vary in color from deep blue to blue-green of different intensities, caused by traces of iron in the beryl crystal. Naturally occurring deep blue stones are the most prized because they are rare and expensive. However, yellow beryl stones can be heated to change them to blue aquamarines.
The aquamarine – also called the “poor man’s diamond” – is a form of the mineral beryl that also includes other gemstones such as the emerald, morganite, and heliodor. Beryl consists of four elements: beryllium, aluminum, silicon, and oxygen. Beryl occurs as free six-sided crystals in rock veins unaffected by shock and weathering that otherwise destroy gem deposits. It is a relatively hard gem, ranking after the diamond, sapphire, ruby, alexandrite, and topaz.
The best commercial source of aquamarines is Brazil. High quality stones are also found in Colombia, the Ural Mountains of Russia, the island of Malagasy, and India. In the United States, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina are the best sources.
The name aquamarine was derived by the Romans from the words “aqua,” meaning water, and “mare,” meaning sea, because it looked like sea water. Aquamarines were believed to have originated from the jewel caskets of sirens, washed ashore from the depths of the sea. They were considered sacred to Neptune, Roman god of the sea. This association with the sea made it the sailors’ gem, promising prosperous and safe voyages, as well as protection against perils and monsters of the sea. Its first documented use was by the Greeks between 480-300 B.C. They wore aquamarine amulets engraved with Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea) on a chariot.
This gemstone was once believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage. The serene blue of aquamarine was said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded.
In the Middle Ages, many believed that the simple act of wearing aquamarine was a literal antidote to poisoning. The Romans believed that if you carved a frog into a piece of aquamarine jewelry, it would help to reconcile differences between enemies and make new friends.
Still, other historical groups took this lore even further, using aquamarine as gifts to the bride at a wedding to symbolize long unity and love. Some even believed it could re-awaken love between two people.
The Sumerians, Egyptians, and Hebrews all admired aquamarine, and many warriors would wear it into battle to bring about victory. Many ancient medicines used powder from aquamarine to help cure all manner of infection, but it was thought to be particularly good for eye ailments.
Today, fans of aquamarine like it for its cool and tranquil color, and as the perfect complement to any skin tone or setting.
Aquamarine is a beautiful gemstone to purchase for any occasion, especially for someone with a March birthday or is celebrating or re-kindling romantic love. The color ranges from nearly clear to a strong dark blue and is a perfect way to communicate affection, tranquility, and peace.
Like diamonds, aquamarine can be judged along the lines of cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.
First, look at the gemstone’s cut. Since aquamarine can be very lightly colored (and sometimes appear almost colorless), cut is very important to the overall appearance of the gemstone and how saturated or even the color appears.
While you’re of course welcome to choose the color that most appeals to you, it’s generally accepted that lighter colored aquamarines are less valuable than the stronger, deeper hues of blue or blue green.
Next, look at the gemstone’s clarity. Most cut gems do not have inclusions that are visible, and some rarer or more expensive aquamarines are available without visible inclusions, as well.
Since aquamarine crystals can grow to be quite large, larger cut gemstones are possible to purchase as a part of beautiful statement pieces. Princess Diana had a famous aquamarine ring and bracelet set, and the Queen has a breathtaking set of aquamarine jewels that include a large tiara, necklace, earrings, and bracelet.
While you may not be looking to buy in the “crown jewels” range, even smaller aquamarines make for lovely solitaires or companion jewels in larger pieces. And, of course, the symbolism or sentiment behind the purchase can make aquamarine priceless to the wearer.