Gemstone of the month

Gemstone of the month

14 April

Named after the colour of sea water, aquamarine is the birthstone for March and the gemstone of a 19th year wedding anniversary. March’s gemstone was also though to enhance the happiness of marriages.  Aquamarine gets its name from the Latin “aqua marina” which means “sea water.” It references the similarity of the gemstone’s colour and clarity to that of the ocean.

Aquamarine is the blue variety of the mineral beryl and is well known for its distinctive blue-green colour. Aquamarine ranges in colour from sea-foam green, to blue/green, to teal. The colour is graded on its hue, tone, and saturation – hue for whether it is a warm or cool shade, tone for how light or dark the colour is, and colour saturation for the quality of being dull or a vivid blue.  The depth of colour is influenced by the amount of ferrous iron found in each gem’s structure, and that is why the colour varies so much. The green variety of beryl, emerald, tends to be hazy and full of inclusions, while aquamarine is known to occur with excellent transparency and clarity.   Aquamarine’s colour gets more intense as it gets larger. It is very difficult to find small sizes with saturated colour: most stones below a carat in size have a pale colour.

Aquamarine is mined in many countries across the world, including Brazil, Zambia, Nigeria, and Madagascar, as well as Pakistan and Mozambique.  The largest aquamarine of gemstone quality ever mined was found in Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1910. It weighed over 110 kg (240 lb), and its dimensions were 48.5 cm (19 in) long and 42 cm (17 in) in diameter.  Most of the world’s supply of quality aquamarine can be found in Brazil, but some of the finest quality aquamarines in the United States can be found in Colorado. In fact, the state recognized aquamarine as their official gemstone in 1971.  Many aquamarine gemstones are heat treated to bring their colour closer to a true, vibrant blue. This colour change is permanent, but it doesn’t harm or otherwise change the structure of the stone.

Lore

Aquamarine is said to protect sailors at sea, and many sailors have believed for generations that this stone has the power to bring them safely back home and cure seasickness. Additionally, some people believe in the natural healing powers of crystals, and they use aquamarine to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety.  Some also suggest that aquamarine is used to treat people for whom procrastination is an affliction. It is believed that one who wears aquamarine has a better ability to think clearly and make quick decisions

Buying tips

As always, the better the colour, clarity and cut, the more expensive the gemstone.  Inclusions are much less accepted than they would be in emeralds although they come from the same mineral beryl. The best quality aquamarines should not have any visible inclusions

Care

Aquamarine is very durable and does not require any particular special care. At-home care requires only a soft brush and warm (not boiling) soapy water. Rinse and wipe.