Aquamarine: The jewel of the sea

This article is about this precious gemstone- aquamarine and its history, properties, values and pricing, meanings, care and cleaning, and iconic pieces of aquamarine jewelry. Keep reading to learn more about this gorgeous gemstone and find the perfect gift for loved ones.

“What is my birthstone” is a common internet search. The list of birthstones by month was officially composed by the Jewelers of America in 1912. If you’re a March Pisces (born before March 21), you’re in luck: you might be drawn to the luminous lagoon-blue aquamarine, the stone of sailors and sea gods.

Aquamarines have a rich history that touches many cultures. They had practical uses: the aquamarine was clear enough for Medieval spectacles. They were also revered for their supposed mystic powers. Like the month of March itself, the aquamarine is a fascinating study of contrasts.

This article is about this precious gemstone- aquamarine and its history, properties, values and pricing, meanings, care and cleaning, and iconic pieces of aquamarine jewelry. Keep reading to learn more about this gorgeous gemstone and find the perfect gift for loved ones.

Aquamarine: The jewel of the sea

Source: Tiffany Soleste Aquamarine and Diamond Ring
Source: Tiffany Soleste Aquamarine and Diamond Ring

Aqua marina

The word aquamarine comes from the Latin aqua marina, meaning seawater. Ancient Greek and Roman sailors wore aquamarine amulets at sea. They believed that the “mermaid stone,” with its aquatic blue-green color, calmed the waves and ensured safe passage.

When the Romans ruled Egypt they imported the gem from India. Archaeologists have found aquamarine stones inside Egyptian tombs and burial sites.

Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder claimed that staring at an aquamarine would cure ailments of the eye. During the Middle Ages, fortune tellers gazed into the translucent stone to “see” beyond the ordinary realm.

Despite its storied history, the aquamarine was not officially documented until 1723, when a huge deposit was unearthed in the mountains of Siberia.

Properties

Like emerald, aquamarine is a variety of the mineral beryl. It naturally forms in hexagonal crystals that can be up to 1 meter long.

The gem derives its lucid aquamarine color from iron ions. Fe²+ ions produce the classic pale blue hue, while a large presence of Fe³+ ions adds a greenish tint. The rare “Santa Maria” variety has a more saturated, brilliant blue appearance.

Aquamarine is a dichroic gem, meaning that it can have two different colors–blue or cleardepending on the angle. It’s a hard and durable stone with a radiant glassy shine.

Places of origin

Aquamarine raw stones
Aquamarine raw stones

Aquamarine stones are found inside granite pegmatites–clusters of interlocked crystals.

Most of the world’s aquamarine comes from Marambaia, a region in the Minas Gerais state of Brazil. The stone is also commonly mined in the African nations of Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Nigeria.

The gems are quarried in countries across Asia, from Russia to Myanmar to Sri Lanka. In the U.S., crystals have been found in the Rocky Mountains, particularly atop Colorado’s Mount Antero.

Value and Pricing

Aquamarine gems are valued based on their clarity and intensity of color. Raw stones are heat treated to intensify the blue hue.

Because they often come in large sizes, these gems’ value does not increase progressively according to their weight. However, larger aquamarines–those above 5 carats–typically display a more vivid blue, which boosts their value.

Rare “cat’s eye” aquamarine jewels reflect a vertical beam of light that resembles a cat’s pupil. These gems are beloved by collectors and often fetch high prices.

Aquamarine Meaning

Aquamarine symbolizes truth, joy and eternal youth. As an amulet, it is thought to protect its wearer and promote courage and verbal self-expression.

Some believe that this March birthstone has soothing, refreshing properties. Holistic healers have used it as an all-purpose healing stone.

In Western folklore, the gem also heals relationships. Legend has it that a frog carved on an aquamarine stone can turn enemies into friends.

It is also said that aquamarine absorbs the spirit of young love. So it’s a popular choice for engagement rings and wedding gifts.

Famous Aquamarine Jewelry

aquamarine
Source: Getty Image Tim Graham

In 1953, the president of Brazil gave Queen Elizabeth II an aquamarine necklace and earrings as coronation presents from the Brazilian people. The gift was not unprecedented. In 1936, he had bequeathed First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt with a rectangular step cut aquamarine that weighed more than 1,000 carats.

Some time in the 1980s, Brazilian miners excavated the world’s largest aquamarine. Before it was cut, the stone was more than 3 feet long and weighed 100 pounds. The “Dom Pedro” aquamarine, named for the historic Brazilian emperors, is currently on display at the Museum of Natural History.

Tiffany & Co. designed aquamarine jewelry reminiscent of the Jazz Age for Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 production of “The Great Gatsby.”

In 2014, pop star Justin Bieber outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for a 13.05 carat aquamarine designed by Italian luxury brand Bulgari.

Care and Cleaning

With a ranking of 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, aquamarine is quite resilient. The gem does not require much upkeep.

Owners should consult a jeweler before attempting to mechanically clean an aquamarine. In the meantime, you can use warm water and a gentle detergent on the gem.

Do You Also Know?

  • Aquamarine is the designated stone of 19th wedding anniversaries.
  • Blue beryl that’s darker than aquamarine is called maxixe[ma-SHEE-sha].

Conclusion on aquamarine

Thank you for reading this article about the aquamarine, I hope it helps you get the information needed. Feel to share your thoughts below or check other articles on birthstones by month that we have published.

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