Aquamarine

“The Aquamarine was much employed by the ancients for engraving: there is one by Quintillius, of Poseidon mounted on marine horses.”

Dr. L. Feuchtwanger, A Popular Treatise on Gems (1867)

Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a perennial favorite among gemstones. A member of the Beryl family, this marvelous precious stone hides within itself the fascination and mystery of the sea.

Etymology

The gemstone’s name recalls strong associations with the sea: Aquamarine literally means ‘Water of the sea,' deriving from the Latin words ‘aqua’ (water) and ‘marinus’ (belonging to the sea).

Chemical composition of Aquamarine

Raw aquamarine crystal

Raw Aquamarine crystal

Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl family (from the ancient Greek ‘Beryllos’: blue-green gemstone), often referred to as the ‘mother of gemstones’ due to its different varieties of precious gemstones. In addition to the blues of Aquamarine, the family includes the reds of Bixbite, the greens of Emerald, the whites of Goshenite, the yellows of Heliodor and Golden Beryl, and the pinks of Morganite. Aquamarine’s color is due to the presence of trace amounts of iron; various concentrations of this element result in a marvelous palette ranging from pastels to the deepest of blues, sometimes flecked with green.

Aquamarine extraction

Aquamarine is found in veins of pegmatite, metamorphic rocks and in the form of mineral deposits in fluvial sediment. Before the discovery of African deposits, the most precious examples of Aquamarine were extracted from the Brazilian mines around Minas Gerais and the Ural mountains around 1830.

Brazil remains one of the world’s largest exporters of this gemstone, although other countries such as Nigeria, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zambia now play an important role in the extraction of Aquamarine.

History of Aquamarine

Aquamarine is famed for its delicate nature; according to ancient legend, this gemstone calmed the anger of Poseidon, the god of the Sea (or Neptune, as the ancient Romans called him). In fact, mariners used to throw Aquamarine amulets into the sea during storms to placate the god of the sea, and prevent his wrath from causing earthquakes and shipwrecks. Aquamarine, birthstone of the month of March, is also said to have a positive influence on perspicacity and wisdom.

Properties of Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a popular gemstone, above all thanks to its wonderful colors, which are best revealed by warm candle light. Usually transparent and eye clean, it does not present any inclusions visible to the naked eye at a distance of 15 cm. Its high purity remains even when examined with magnification.

A very rare Cat's Eye Aquamarine

An extremely rare Cat's Eye Aquamarine gemstone

Varieties of Aquamarine

Various varieties of Aquamarine are classified according to where they were extracted: Santa Maria Aquamarine is a rare Aquamarine with intense shades of blue sourced from the Brazilian mines of Santa Maria de Itabira. Brazilian varieties also include the classic pastel blue of the São-Domingos Aquamarine, discovered by accident in a farm of the same name, as well as the brilliant turquoise hues of Santa Teresa Aquamarine. Boca-Rica Aquamarine is also named after the Brazilian deposit where gemstones with exotic shadings that recall sea foam and green flecks can be found. Pedra Azul Aquamarine is famed for its intense, breathtaking dark blue, and is also found in Brazil. Cat’s Eye Aquamarine is particularly fascinating - the cat’s eye phenomenon is rare for any gemstone, but even more so for Aquamarine. This effect is caused by long, needle-shaped, parallel inclusions that reflect light.

Care for Aquamarine

Aquamarine should only be treated using traditional steam cleaning methods.