Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and the gem of the 19th wedding anniversary.
The name “aquamarine” is derived from two Latin words: aqua, meaning “water,” and marina, meaning “of the sea.” March’s birthstone was thought to keep sailors safe at sea and calm the sea’s waves; it was also believed to enhance the happiness of marriages. It has been said that the mineral beryl gives the wearer protection against foes in battle or litigation. It makes the wearer unconquerable and amiable, and also quickens the intellect.
Aquamarine is a blue to slightly greenish-blue variety of the mineral beryl. The best aquamarines combine high clarity with translucent transparency. Crystals are sometimes big enough to cut fashioned gems of more than 100 carats.
Aquamarine is pastel blue, greenish blue, or green-blue. The preferred aquamarine color is a dark blue to slightly greenish blue with moderate intensity and is most striking in gems of over 5-cts. Fine stones show even blue color with no zoning. If you prefer an aquamarine color that has more green in it, you can buy a beautiful gem for less than you would pay for the same gem if it was a pure blue. Aquamarine’s color gets more intense as it gets larger. It is very difficult to find small sizes with saturated color: most stones below a carat in size have a pale color.
Most faceted aquamarines are free of eye-visible inclusions. Collectors generally expect clean gems with good transparency. There is a trend today to use included, but good-color aquamarines as unique centerpieces for jewelry articles or even as partially polished crystal slices or nuggets in necklaces. Although aquamarine is the mineral beryl, like emerald, inclusions are much less accepted than they would be in emerald. Aquamarine that is milky or included is much less expensive, although it may be beautiful in its own way.
Aquamarines can be cut into almost any shape, but cutters often fashion them as emerald cuts or as round or oval brilliants. Many gem artists use aquamarine for one-of-a-kind designer cuts because their styles maximize the material’s pure, even color and high clarity.
Aquamarine is available in large sizes—many fine gems of 25-cts or greater are readily available. Generally, smaller accent sizes are pale: cut gems are more likely to have a darker color if they are larger than five carats.
Aquamarine is durable. It is a good choice for rings and mountings for everyday wear.
Care and Cleaning
Clean Aquamarine with warm soapy water.
Heat treatment of aquamarine is stable, but fracture-filled gems should only be cleaned with warm soapy water.
- MINERAL: beryl
- CHEMISTRY: Be3Al2Si6O18
- COLOR: greenish blue, light in tone
- REFRACTIVE INDEX: 1.577 to 1.583
- BIREFRINGENCE: 0.005 to 0.009
- SPECIFIC GRAVITY: 2.72
- MOHS HARDNESS: 7.5 to 8.0
(Gem Encyclopedia Aquamarine)