Many gemstones have an interesting story behind them, and aquamarine is no exception. For instance, have you ever wondered how aquamarine got its name, where it is mined, or what gives it that special color? Learn some of the key facts about this birthstone to get better acquainted with it.
15 Facts About the Birthstone Aquamarine
You may already know a few of these facts, but some will likely be new to you. If you're a fan of this gemstone, it's all fascinating.
The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin words for water and sea, and this is probably the basis for some of the myths and folklore that surround this gem.
One of the most common facts about aquamarine is that it's the birthstone for the month of March. People born in March traditionally wear this gem in rings, earrings or even pendants.
Aquamarine is well known for its distinctive blue-green color. Shades range from deep teal to a pale, crystal blue. The depth of color is actually influenced by the amount of iron found in the each gem's structure, and that is why the color varies so much.
Many aquamarine gemstones are heat treated to bring their color closer to a true, vibrant blue. This color change is permanent, but it doesn't harm or otherwise change the structure of the stone. Heat treated stones should be clearly marked as such, and they are often lower in price than natural stones with the same hue.
Aquamarine is said to protect sailors at sea, and many sailors have believed for generations that this stone has the power to bring them safely back home. Additionally, some people believe in the natural healing powers of crystals, and they use aquamarine to help alleviate symptoms of stress or use them as worry stones.
According to other folklore-based traditions, aquamarine has the power to:
- Increase youth
- Increase intelligence
- Increase foresight
- Increase courage
- Increase happiness
- Reduce the effect of poisons
Sacred to Neptune
The ancient Romans believed that Neptune, god of the sea, had a special affiliation with aquamarine. According to legend, Neptune obtained the stone when it fell out of the sirens' jewel box and washed up on the shore. These beliefs helped further the notion that aquamarine provides protection for sailors because, surely, Neptune wouldn't want these jewels to disappear back into the sea.
Aquamarine is the traditional gift for a 19th wedding anniversary. This gift may have just about anything to do with the color aquamarine, but the gift was originally meant to be aquamarine jewelry.
A Variety of Beryl
Both emeralds and aquamarine are members of the beryl variety of gemstones, and many people are unaware that these stones are so closely related. Emeralds are the most rare and precious of the beryl gemstones because they are more fragile. However, fine examples of aquamarine are also highly prized. Another beryl closely related to aquamarine is the golden beryl. The two stones are often found together in the same deposit. What makes the golden beryl different from aquamarine is the inclusion of uranium in the stone, alongside the iron.
Aquamarine registers between a 7 and an 8 on Mohs scale. This is the unit of measurement that is used to test the hardness of different kinds of gemstones. In comparison, a diamond measures 10 on the hardness scale, so aquamarine is relatively hard and will withstand daily wear.
Unlike other gemstones, aquamarine is found in a wide range of sizes. This means that large specimen pieces of aquamarine are readily available for mineral collectors, and smaller pieces are available for setting into jewelry.
Aquamarine is mined in many countries across the world, including Brazil, Zambia, Nigeria, and Madagascar, as well as Pakistan and Mozambique. Many of the gem-quality examples of aquamarine are mined in Brazil, and these are the stones commonly used in jewelry. Stones of a different shape have also recently been found in China. These aquamarine pieces are flat and hexagonal, and they're much less expensive than those found in other countries.
The clear nature of this gemstone lends itself nicely to faceting. This means that the surface of the stone is cut with many tiny individual cuts or "facets" that reflect the light and make the stone sparkle. Aquamarines are sometimes cut as a cabochon, and this cut looks particularly lovely with darker colored stones.
In some cases beryls, including aquamarines, are formed with hollows or in layers where foreign mineral aligns within the deposit. In these cases, when the stone is cut, it forms chatoyancy, which is also known as the cat's eye effect.
The uses of aquamarine in jewelry are extensive. It makes lovely rings, pendants and earrings and looks stunning when set into sterling silver. Aquamarine also looks great when it's set in white gold because the cool white of the metal sets off the light blue color of the stone.
World Famous Gem
The largest aquamarine known to date is called the Hirsch Aquamarine. It measures an impressive 109.92 carats and is completely free of any heat treating or color enhancements. The stone is set in 18K gold and accented with 118 diamonds.
Increase Your Aquamarine Knowledge
Whether you are lucky enough to have aquamarine as your birthstone or you just enjoy the stone for its natural beauty, think about some of these facts the next time you encounter this gem..They will give you new insight about this captivating stone and, hopefully, a greater appreciation for it.