Some Interesting Facts About Aquamarine Gemstones - The Birthstone of March
Aquamarine Gemstone Properties
Aquamarine gemstones are a member of the beryl group of minerals, the most famous of which is emerald. Aquamarine is the blue/green variety of beryl and is from the Latin word meaning "sea water". Aquamarine gemstones are mainly light blue in color and are very pleasing to the eye. Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and is a very popular gemstone, especially with high end jewelry designers It is a relatively hard and durable gemstone, rated 8 on the Mohs scale, and possesses moderate to good brilliance. Aquamarine can occur in very large clean hexagonal or irregular crystals, and is even found as bi-color with other beryl minerals such as morganite. The coloring element to produce the beautiful blue, blue-green or green color is iron, which is substituted for aluminum in the crystal structure. Aquamarine can occur in a blue/green color and even a pure green color, which is than heat-treated to a temperature of 600 -1200 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a pure blue color. This treatment is permanent and accepted in the gemstone trade as standard. See an example of a heat treated Aquamarine
Aquamarine Gemstone History and Lore
The word aquamarine is from the Latin words “aqua” and “mare”, meaning water and sea respectively. The first documented use of an aquamarine gemstone is by the Greeks, around the time period 480 to 300 BC. It has been very popular since the seventeenth century. Aquamarine amulets were worn by ancient sailors to render them fearless and protect them from the wrath of the oceans, especially if the stone was engraved with the Poseidon chariot.
Aquamarine Gemstone Sources and Occurrences
Aquamarine and most beryl’s occur in geological formations known as pegmatites. They can occur in vugs, also known as pockets, as well as encased by quartz and feldspar. Aquamarine gems are commonly found along with Tourmalines. Aquamarine generally occurs in pale colors, but can also occur in a very deep blue color. The traditional producer of aquamarine has been Brazil, but in more recent times Zambia, Mozambique and Nigeria have been producing very fine quality stones. The largest high quality gem crystal ever discovered, in the early 1900's was a 200-kilogram absolute gem quality crystal found in Brazil. It was so clean that one could read newsprint through it! The term “Santa Maria” refers to a very fine deep blue deposit of aquamarine that was discovered in Brazil at the Santa Maria de Itabira mine. Santa Maria Africana refers to very fine deep blue aquamarine gems originating from Africa.
Aquamarine Gemstone Evaluation and Valuation
Because aquamarine gemstones commonly occur in large clean crystals, the size of the finished aquamarine gemstone is not an important evaluation characteristic. For example a 40 carat very pale aquamarine gem will be worth the same as a very fine deep blue aquamarine of one carat size. Intensity of color and clarity are the most essential considerations in evaluating Aquamarine. It should posses at least a bright sky blue color. Exceptionally deep, vivid blue colors are very scarce and becoming increasingly valuable. All gem quality aquamarine should be free of any inclusions.