Aquamarine stones rough

Name and history of Aquamarine

Even Aquamarine’s name embodies these oceanic connections. Coined by the Romans over 2,000 years ago, Aquamarine literally means 'water of the sea' in Latin, from the words 'aqua' (water) and 'marina' (sea).

During antiquity, Aquamarine was praised for its ability to protect sailors from the wrath of Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea, Neptune in Roman mythology), thereby guaranteeing sailors a safe voyage. Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and given it's mythology it is not surprising that this gem was also regarded by the ancients as fostering tranquillity, serenity, calmness, purification and wisdom.

Composition of Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl mineral family along with Emerald, Bixbite, Goshenite, Heliodor and Morganite. All members of the Beryl family are aluminum beryllium silicates with a hardness of 7.5 – 8 on Mohs scale. Aquamarine is coloured by trace amounts of iron, with different concentrations causing an extraordinarily beautiful range of pastel to intense deep blues, sometimes with splashes of green.

Properties of Aquamarine

Aquamarine is typically eye-clean (no visible inclusions when the gem is examined six inches from the naked eye), occasionally with a very high clarity even under magnification. Because of its high clarity and transparency, colour is Aquamarine's most important consideration. Aquamarine can never be too dark, deep and intense blues are much more valuable than light. Although Aquamarine's lighter blues are more readily available. Because colour is such an important value determinant for Aquamarine, lapidaries often employ deeper cuts to accentuate its colour.


The deeper Aquamarine blues are often given different trade. Collectively called 'AAA'. The names include 'Santa Maria,' a rare, intensely deep blue Aquamarine from Brazil's Santa Maria de Itabira deposit; discovered in the 50s, it is virtually depleted with only sporadic mining occurring, and 'Tatu', named for its mine in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, it is noted for its exceptional quality and extremely limited output.

Source of Aquamarine

Prior to the Aquamarine's modern African discoveries, in the early 1800s (circa 1830), it was the Brazilian gem fields of Minas Gerais, and Russia's Urals that ruled the roost, producing the finest quality. Today, Brazil is still a major supplier, but several African nations, including Nigeria Madagascar, Mozambique and Zambia, are more recent suppliers of equally beautiful Aquamarines.

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