Aquamarine is the blue variety of the beryl mineral species to which the emerald also belongs.
In its purest form, the mineral beryl is colorless. It is frequently tinted by impurities; possible colors are green, blue, yellow, and red (the rarest). Beryl can also be black in color. Aquamarine color is due to the presence of Iron (Fe).
Layla’s Bow earrings – Harry Winstone’s Candy ring – Sarah Leonard Jewelers
Jessica Biel at Oscar 2013 – Tiffany’s Bow Bracelet
- Its name derives from the Latin root words “aqua” meaning water, and “marine” meaning of the sea.
- According to some legends, aquamarine belonged to the mermaid’s treasure and it would have the power to keep sailors safe.
- Royalty often sought after and wore aquamarine in their crowns and necklaces.
- At Roman Empire time, aquamarine was the most appreciated wedding gift for a bride as it was thought aquamarine would brought happiness in the marriage.
- Traditionally aquamarine is the Birthstone for March and the 19th wedding anniversary gem.
Rough, Cut & Carat Weight
Aquamarine crystals can grow naturally in perfect hexagon crystals, prismatic crystals, short, wide crystals, tabular crystals, and flat hexagonal plates.
A historical place where aquamarine is found is Brazil.
In fact, it was in the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Menas Gerais, where the original aquamarine gemstone possessing a unique deeply saturated blue hue was discovered. Thus, stones with such a color are now dubbed ‘Santa Maria,’ regardless of their origin. Today the Santa Maria mine is almost exhausted.
Aquamarine has also been found in Pakistan, China, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Mozambique, Namibia, Russia, Siberia, Sri Lanka, the United States (Colorado and California) and Zambia.
The most popular cut of aquamarines is the emerald shape, square or rectangle cuts complement the stone perfectly.
A step cut is chosen especially when the gem cutter wants to show off saturated aquamarine color, and the rough has few to no inclusions. That’s because step cuts enhance color while allowing inclusions to be easily visible. Oval, pear and cushion cut are also common.
The gemstone’s hardness and transparency make it popular with designers, artists, and carvers. Gem sculptors use aquamarine for fantasy cuts and ornamental objects.
Cat’s eye chatoyancy is an optical trait distinguished by a reflection of light that resembles the slit-eye of a cat. The unique reflection is caused by light reflected off parallel inclusions, typically composed of rutile needles, fibers or channels.
Cabochon cut is the preferred choice for cat’s eye aquamarine because it maximize the effects. The distinction of the ‘eye’ is considered most valuable, even more than the color quality when evaluating cat’s eye aquamarines.
Carat is the lesser of the four C’s in this case, because aquamarine occurs naturally in large formations. For that reason, the cost per carat does not increase drastically with size.
The Dom Pedro aquamarine is the world’s largest cut aquamarine gem. It was cut from a crystal originally weighing approximately 45 kgand measuring about 0.91meters in length. The stone was mined in Pedra Azul, in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil around 1980, and named after the Brazilian emperors Pedro I and Pedro II.
Clarity & Color
Aquamarine’s color range is very narrow: It can be blue, light greenish blue, greenish blue, strong greenish blue or greyish blue.
Color is of utmost importance for colored gemstones like aquamarine stones. Therefore, they are first categorized by the quality and type of color that they display.
The gem’s most valuable color is a pure blue to slightly greenish blue with deep intense to intense saturation.
Commercially the pure blue hue with intense – intense saturation is recognized as “Santa Maria” aquamarines. This trade name applies when the gems are also eye clean clarity.
In general, the purer and more intense the blue color, the more valuable the stone.
Most aquamarine is a light greenish blue.
Although some buyers prefer the more greenish natural color, most of the aquamarine in the market was heat-treated to give it more of a pure blue.
Although small gems are rarely saturated enough to be attractive, stones from some mines in Africa—Nigeria, Madagascar, and Mozambique, for example—are known for intense color in sizes under 5 carats. For this reason, smaller, top-color stones might sell for more per carat than larger stones of the same color.
Unlike its sister, Emerald, the blue-hued stone often forms in flawless crystals with little to no flaws.
Those that are clear with no inclusions inside or blemishes on the surface are also sought after. In regards to clarity, a perfect aquamarine should be translucent, with no internal or external flaws.
Heat treatment results are permanent and produce a more salable color. The treatment itself is also undetectable. For these reasons, the gem and jewelry industry widely accepts these particular aquamarine enhancements. Moreover, the industry recommends that any gem report for a pure blue aquamarine state that the stone may be heat treated.
Untreated aquamarines would be considered quite rare.
Although it’s always interesting to know where a gem was mined and for other gem species their mining country origin might affect their commercial price, for aquamarine isn’t an important factor for its value. Famous mines are well regarded because they produce fine-quality gems that are valuable; aquamarines aren’t fine or valuable just because they come from famous mines.