JUST like its cool blue colour and name suggest, aquamarine evokes the beauty of the ocean. Translucent and beautifully sparkling, it’s no wonder ancient Romans believed aquamarine was the sacred gem of Neptune, the god of the sea. In fact, the name “aquamarine” comes from the Latin for “water” and “sea”.
According to astrology, aquamarine is aligned with the star sign of Pisces. Therefore it is also considered the birthstone for March. Aquamarines appear in many historical texts as a cure for ailments, including tired eyes, sore throats and of course, seasickness. Their colour is also said to magically inspire creativity and courage. In ancient times sailors would wear aquamarine amulets as protection from the stormy seas.
The blue cousin of the emerald
Aquamarine belongs to the beryl mineral family, which also includes emerald. But while emeralds are green and fairly small, the aquamarine gets its blue hues from iron trace elements and occurs as big crystals. Brazilian aquamarines are particularly large and have an almost glass-like purity.
Aquamarines can range from a clear light greenish-blue to an opaque dark blue. Although crystals with intense blue colour are considered more valuable, most people seek the lighter green-blue stones because of their unique sparkle.
From Princess Diana to the Oscars
Aquamarine has been used widely and creatively through the ages, from seamen’s talismans to haute jewellery. In recent times it’s notably been seen in British, Dutch and Danish crown jewellery and on Cate Blanchett‘s huge bib necklace at the 2015 Oscars. Princess Diana famously wore an aquamarine ring after becoming newly single in 1996.
Where on Earth?
The best aquamarines in the world come from Brazil, although the gem is also mined on the African and Asian continents. The beautiful Brazilian provinces of Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo and Bahia have mines that produce the most vividly blue, pure beryl. The Brazilian gem trade is conflict-free and the government restricts mechanised mining to protect the environment.
What to look for in aquamarine jewellery
Some gems are judged more by their colour, and some are more valued for their clarity. With aquamarines, it’s important to strike a good balance between the two. Our gemmologist recommends you look for an aquamarine with:
- No visible impurities
- Vivid colour, whether lighter or darker
- A skilful cut that makes it sparkle
Why buy aquamarine?
Aquamarines give diamonds a run for their money, because of their showstopping sparkle and because they suit almost any complexion. In terms of price, high-grade aquamarine is more expensive than blue topaz, but it’s not as dear as emeralds. This makes it affordable as well as beautiful, perfect for adding value, excitement and meaning to your jewellery collection – especially if it’s your birthstone.
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