Aquamarine is the birthstone for March. Famous for its icy blue hues, it is the blue variety of the mineral beryl, and has the same basic composition as emerald. It would be hard to guess that they are related by looking at the two gemstones though; aquamarine can have beautiful clarity and transparency, whereas emerald is known for often having a lot of inclusions.
The name aquamarine comes from the words ‘aqua’ and ‘marine’ meaning ‘water of the sea’, and the gem is named for its stunning light blue colour. Commonly very pale, the price of aquamarine can increase dramatically as the colour becomes stronger. To achieve a purer blue hue material is routinely heat treated to remove unattractive green tones. The treatment is permanent, and it is usually safe to assume your aquamarine has received it.
The icy colour combined with aquamarine’s stunning transparency creates a truly beautiful gemstone. It is also possible to buy large stones, as it often forms in crystals of significant size: the largest gem quality crystal ever found weighed 110 kilograms! This scale is unusual though, as the record has stood since 1910. The largest and finest stones are mostly found in Brazil, where the famous Santa Maria mine is located. The mine is famous for producing aquamarine with relatively strong blues, but the name 'Santa Maria aquamarine' is often applied to material with a good colour regardless of where it was mined.
The association of aquamarine with the sea is in more than just the name. From the time of the Roman Empire, sailors were often given the gem to wear as a talisman; it was said to encourage a safe and prosperous passage for the wearer.
Aquamarine has a reasonable level of hardness and is not so brittle as emerald, making it more suitable for regular wear. However, it requires frequent cleaning to ensure it looks its best, as the light colour means just a small amount of dirt can make even the most sparkly stone appear dull and cloudy.
Aquamarine could be the perfect gemstone if you want to add some colour to your jewellery collection but want a piece that is versatile and not too bright. We have a selection of aquamarine jewellery available to view in our showroom, and our qualified gemmologists are happy to help if you’d like to know more about the gem. You can view some of our lovely aquamarine pieces on our website too.