In a time when many of us are longing for holidays by the sea, the aquamarine birthstone evokes the colours of the sea.
In a time when many of us are longing for holidays by the sea, the aquamarine birthstone evokes the colours of the sea. Its very name comes from name from the Latin word for seawater.
Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family and its colour can range from an almost translucent blue to intense blue-green or teal. Beryl also contains other gem varieties, including emerald, and some lesser-known varieties such as morganite and heliodor. Its hardness makes it a favourite among gem cutters, allowing them to experiment with innovative cuts they wouldn't dare try on a softer stone. Above you see how spectacular the gem looks in this high jewellery piece by Japanese Atelier, Tasaki.
People often ask, "Where does aquamarine come from?” The most valuable aquamarines come from Brazil, but the gemstone is also mined at high elevations in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains. Other countries include Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Russia.
The best gems combine high clarity with limpid transparency and blue to slightly greenish blue hues. Like many beryls, aquamarine forms large crystals suitable for sizeable fashioned gems and carvings. Although both aquamarine and beryl are from the same family, structurally they are very different stones. Both are beryllium aluminum silicates, but while emerald gets its colour from trace amounts of chromium and vanadium, aquamarine's colour comes from iron impurities inside the colorless beryl crystal. Occasionally a cat's eye or star effect occurs with aquamarine. These stones are especially rare and valuable.
In the 19th century, sea-green aquamarine jewellery was the most sought after but, in later years, the colour preference shifted to a more intense blue. Light green Beryl can be transformed into Aquamarine if heated to 750º F (400º C). The green hues in most Aquamarine can also be removed through heat treatment.
Folklore, Legend, and Healing Properties
Aquamarine is aligned with Neptune, the god of the sea, and is the birthstone for March. Since ancient times it has been considered the sailor's lucky stone. Legends tell how mermaids kept aquamarine hidden in treasure chests offering the gemstone to sailors in distress during storms.
Since early times, aquamarine has been believed to endow the wearer with foresight, courage, and happiness. It is said to increase intelligence and make one youthful. As a healing stone, it is said to be effective as a treatment for anxiety and in the Middle Ages, it was thought that aquamarine would reduce the effect of poisons. Aquamarine has been mentioned in centuries-old documents as a panacea for arthritis, eye inflammation, sore throats, and seasickness.
A legend says that sailors wore aquamarine gemstones to keep them safe and prevent seasickness. Another tells how mermaids kept aquamarine hidden in treasure chests offering the gemstone to sailors in distress during storms.
Aquamarine is not only the birthstone for March, but the gem is also given as a present on the 19th wedding anniversary.