Aquamarine

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Edwardian Pendant Featuring an Oval Faceted Aquamarine.
Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.

Aquamarine (from the Latin, "water from the sea") is, as the name suggests, a pale green bluish to medium dark blue member of the beryl family. Due to its lovely, limpid color and its durability aquamarine has been one of the most popular gemstones from ancient times to the present day.


There are many sources where aquamarine is mined; most notable are Brazil, Nigeria, Zambia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Aquamarine with a highly saturated blue color has been discovered at the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Brazil and is known by its trade name "Santa Maria aquamarine". The more intense the blue hue is, the more valuable the stone. To remove the less desirable green component of an aquamarine, it is routinely heat treated to around 800 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 425 degrees C.) leaving only a stable blue cast. Although we usually associate the blue variety of beryl only with aquamarine, there are a few other blue beryls. A very rare variety has been found in Canada posessing a dark blue color due to very high concentrations of ferrous iron and from Brazil comes a rare and spectacular blue beryl, named maxixe, although the color of this gemstone is not stable in daylight.


Aquamarine comes in all sizes and large stones are readily available. With some exceptions, aquamarine is one of the more affordable of the top ranked gemstones. A 243 pound (110 kg.) rough crystal was found in 1920 in Brazil and sold for only $25,000. Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt was presented with a 1,847 carat aquamarine by the Brazilian government in 1935; the stone is now on display in the Hyde Park Museum, New York city.

A 46 Carat Emerald Cut Aquamarine with an Even Blue Color.
Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.


Ancient Greeks and Romans attributed great powers to aquamarine as an amulet. It was not only regarded as a symbol of eternal youth and happiness, but when engraved with a depiction of Poseidon on his chariot, sailors believed they were made invincible to the perils of the sea, making them fearless and courageous.


Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and the 19th year anniversary gift.


Gemological Information for Aquamarine
Color Pale Greenish Blue to Blue
Crystal Structure Hexagonal
Refractive Index 1.577-1.583
Durability Excellent
Hardness 7.5-8
Family Beryl
Similar Stones Aquamarine may be Confused with Synthetic Spinel, Blue Zircon,Blue Topaz, Pale Blue Sapphire, Kyanite, Tourmaline, Apatite and Glass
Treatments Heat Treatment
Country of Origin Brazil, Nigeria, Zambia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Afghanistan And Pakistan
Aquamarine Care
Ultrasonic Cleaning Not Safe
Steam Cleaning Not Safe
Warm Soapy Water Safe with a Soft Brush
Chemical attack None
Light Sensitivity None
Heat Sensitivity May Alter the Color
Lang Antiques
Lang Antiques