Aquamarine: March Birthstone
About Aquamarine- It’s Meaning and History
The name “aqua marine” comes from Latin for “sea water.” The ancient sailors believed that the gem would calm the waves and would protect them against any dangers while travelling at sea. It was also claimed to give protection in battle and make the wearer unconquerable.
This blue or cyan variety of mineral Beryl is one of the most popular gemstones. Aquamarine evokes the color of the sea. Its soft blue and greenish blue color come in various tints/shades/tones. It’s therefore no surprise that aquamarine wields a powerful attraction that goes beyond its status as the March’s birthstone.
Among all the faceted aquamarines, two stand out. A 1298 carats dark blue rectangular step cut aquamarine which is now housed at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Museum in Hyde Park, New York. The other renowned aquamarine is the Dom Pedro. The 10,363 carat stone is the largest faceted aquamarine in the world and is currently at the Smithsonian Institute.
Apart from being the birthstone for March, Aquamarine is also given as a present on the 19th wedding anniversary.
Aquamarine’s Composition, Varieties and Mines
Aquamarine is a variety of blue beryl and has a vitreous luster. It occurs in Granitic rocks. The mesmerizing spectrum of aquamarine comes from its green undertones.
The gem receives its coloring from trace amounts of ferrous iron. It has a bluish green hue and its tones can vary from very light to moderately dark.
Most of the aquamarine today is mined in Brazil, in the state of Minas Gerais. The hubspot of Aqua’s activity is the eastern portion of the state, near the gem center of Teófilo Otoni.
Aquamarine is also found in Karakoram ranges of Pakistan. It is also mined in Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Zambia and Mozambique. In the US Mount Antero area of Colorado and San Diego counties are sources of aquamarine stone. It is also present in small quantities the state of Wyoming.
Aquamarine prices depend on depth and purity of color and clarity. Aquamarines are usually free from inclusions. Aquamarine is graded according to the 4 C’s - cut, color, clarity, and carat - on an AAAA, AAA, AA, and B scale. Since aquamarines are available in large sizes, there’s not much increase in price per carat for large gems.
The color is extremely important in grading Aquamarine, and one should look for stones that have a pure, rich blue color with no visible inclusions. The most valuable Aquamarine is a dark blue to bluish green in color with moderate intensity.
Round-cut is the most popular shape for this gem. In this cut the natural brilliance and radiance of Aquamarine is highlighted. Step cut is another popular cut for aquamarines.
Aquamarines are easy to polish, and diamond polish is the most common method. A high-quality polish can give light aquamarines great brilliance. While the highest values go to the richer colors, a well-cut light aquamarine can be expensive too.
Synthetic aquamarines are available in the market. This can be usually ascertained through a microscope. However, one should consult a professional gem lab for confirmation.
Things to consider while buying
Most Aquamarine are heat-treated. However, distinguishing this heating process proves impossible. Natural aquamarines have a greenish tint, which disappears after heating to 375° C. Heating Aquamarine does not change its color, but removes impurities thereby reducing the underlying greenish colors leaving behind a much desired pure blue color.
Caring for your Aquamarines
Aquamarines require no special care. It is a hard stone (7.5-8.0 on Mohs scale) and is therefore appropriate for daily use in rings and other jewelry. A soft brush with mild soap is the best option for cleaning Aquamarine. It can be usually cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner. Steam cleaning is also safe if there are no fractures/inclusions in the stone.