Aquamarine Jewelry—The Gem of Atlantis
If the sea waves give you energy, then the transparent blue colors of aquamarine will provide you with life. As the name implies, aquamarine originates from the Latin word for "seawater" — an appropriate description for a gemstone that ranges in tones from pale blues to blue-greens to aqua-blues. The semi-precious stone is becoming quite trendy (it's March's birthstone), so let's look at its history and review some tips on what you should know before buying aquamarine jewelry.
Where is aquamarine found?
Brazil is the gemstone capital of the world and where the best aquamarine stones are found. However, the first gems were discovered in 1723 Siberia, collected in a style similar to panning for gold. Mining for aqua occurs in parts of Africa, including Kenya and Mozambique. And here stateside, it's found in the Colorado Rockies, specifically Mount Antero and White Mountain, where aquamarine is also the state's official gemstone.
What color is aquamarine?
As its name implies, aquamarine is blue. Still, while other gemstones generally have a broad spectrum of color in their palettes, aquamarine is limited to only a handful of hues: pale blue, blue, green-blue, medium green-blue, and deep green-blue. The type of iron (and how much) determines the blue color in the stone. Ferrous iron gives the gemstone its blue color, while ferric iron is green. Aqua is a blue-green color when mined (a seafoam color); typically, the green is removed with heat before the stone is cut.
How is aquamarine formed?
It's time for a bit of chemistry! Aquamarine is a mineral called beryl (emerald is also beryl, but that's another interesting article) and is 7.5-8 on the Mohs hardness scale. When lava is forced to the Earth's surface and cools, it's called igneous rock. There are many igneous rock types, but the one that forms beryl (aquamarine) is called pegmatite. Pegmatite occurs during magma's cooling stage — it's when water doesn't completely dissolve and instead hardens in small deposits in the magma's nooks and crannies. The hardened water deposits eventually turn into flawless crystals, and pegmatites are born — and one of the minerals that occur is beryl.
Aquamarine: The Marriage of Ocean and Sky
To many ancient cultures, dating back to the Middle Ages and beyond, aquamarine was a symbol of happiness, courage and everlasting youth. These gems of the sea embody the magnificence of the oceans and the grandeur of the skies. Legends refer to aquamarine as the treasure of Atlantis, with the power to keep sailors safe at sea.
Our world-class jewelry buyers and designers travel the globe to locate our favorite aquamarine treasures, bringing to you a stellar assortment of pendants to bracelets, earrings to rings, and everything in-between. We strive to locate the highest quality aquamarine jewelry, set in gold and sterling silver in a wide range of designs.
How can you determine high-quality aquamarine?
Always use the "Four Cs" when determining the quality of an aquamarine gemstone.Color: Aquas with deeper shades of blue are significantly more expensive than the paler, light blue versions that are much more common. Clarity: A clear and transparent gem—one considered "loupe clean" or "eye clean"—and has few to no inclusions makes for a more desirable stone. An inclusion is an imperfection you may see in the rock—tiny bubbles of trapped air, hairline thin crystals, anything that would make the gemstones less than perfect. Cut: The most common cuts for aquamarine are emerald, round, or oval shapes, emphasizing the stone's sparkle, light, and color. The rock is tough and is somewhat scratch-resistant, making the stone popular with artists. Aquamarine is a pleochroic gem, which means you see different colors differently depending on the cut and angle you view the stone. Some pleochroic gems are multifaceted, so you see multiple colors, but aquamarine only has two: colorless and blue. A high-quality aqua depends on the angle of the cut—it must be in such a way that allows the deepest blue to show through. Carat: Aquamarine gemstones come in various sizes, but the high-quality stones—ones that show off their deep blue colors—are usually larger than 5 carats. The price of aquamarine isn't dependent on size; it's all about the color and clarity. A 25-carat stone could cost as much as a 5-carat if it lacks that impactful brilliance.
How to Care for Your Aquamarine Jewelry
- Apply your makeup first before putting on your jewelry (and reverse the process when you get home). Otherwise, you risk the makeup chemicals potentially damaging your jewelry.
- Avoid touching your stones, even if your hands and fingers are clean. Simple body oils will end up dulling the luster of the stone over time.
- Always check the gemstones are intact and are not loose in the settings before wearing your jewelry.
- Don't wear your stones while exercising or doing manual labor.
- Remove your jewelry when you're getting your hair styled or colored.
- Don't wear your aquamarine jewelry (or any jewelry, really) when you go swimming.
- Keep your aquamarine stones and jewelry out of the sunlight (it may fade over time) and high temperatures.
- Fill a small bowl with warm soapy water (mild liquid soap is best).
- Place your stone in the bowl and let it soak for about 10 minutes.
- Take an old soft-bristled toothbrush and gently clean the stone, removing any dirt and particles.
- Rise your stone in with warm, clean water.
- Dry the stone with a soft microfiber cloth.
- Do not use a home ultrasonic machine to clean aquamarine.
- Take care to protect aquamarine jewelry from sharp blows and scratches.
Interesting Facts and Myths About Aquamarine
Cue the parties: Aquamarine is the March birthstone and the gemstone for 19th wedding anniversaries. Fashion-forward celebrities such as Eva Mendes, Carrie Underwood, Eva Longoria, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga also celebrate March birthdays!
A bit of a leap: The Romans once believed that if they carved frogs into aquamarine and gave them to their enemies, they could avoid going to war with them.
The Royals and their aquas: The president and people of Brazil gifted Queen Elizabeth II an aquamarine necklace and matching earrings for her coronation in 1953. And more recently, who can forget the 30-carat ring Megan Markle wore on her wedding day from Princess Diana's collection?
More than meets the eye: In ancient times, people thought green could help those with impaired eyesight, so jewelers created spectacles out of the green-tinted, glass-like material. (In fact, the German word for eyeglasses is "brille," which comes from "beryl.")
How big was it? Weighing approximately 100 pounds, the largest aquamarine ever found was in 1980s Brazil. Unfortunately, the prospectors who found it dropped it. Oops. It broke into three pieces, one of which is now called the Dom Pedro Aquamarine (named after two Brazilian emperors, Pedro I and Pedro II). The famously large stone is currently part of the Smithsonian's National Gem and Mineral Collection in Washington, DC.