Gem in the Spotlight: Aquamarine
Discover the history and beauty of this amazing gemstone
Aquamarine derives its name from the Latin which literally means “seawater,” a tribute to its beautiful blue color. As a member of the beryl family, Aquamarine has some illustrious cousins in addition to a rich history of its own.
The Mythology of Aquamarine
Long associated with tranquility and happiness, aquamarine was also thought to instill courage, cure laziness, and sharpen the intellect. The ancient Greeks used aquamarine often in jewelry believing it captured the true spirit of the sea.
aquamarine was believed to guarantee a happy marriage
Best known for its beautiful blue color, aquamarine was used to bring happiness, eternal youth, and control passion. In the body, aquamarine was thought to reduce swelling, prevent convulsions, heal liver ailments, calm nerves, and strengthen many organs. Spiritually, aquamarine has been used in meditation to enhance clarity of the mind and to banishing fears and phobias.
Aquamarine is a universal symbol of youth, hope, and health. In ancient times, the stone was said to aid seafarers. Sailors often wore amulets of aquamarine to give them courage and tame the ocean waves. One myth says, “to dream of aquamarine signifies the making of new friends.” Another saying is, “to wear aquamarine earrings brings love and affection.”
Aquamarine as a precious stone has always been popular. In ancient times, the aquamarine was believed to instill courage in those who wore them. Ancient Indians wore aquamarine in amulets, and the Egyptians carved it into talismans. In the Middle Ages, aquamarine was believed to guarantee a happy marriage and inspire mutual fidelity in newlyweds.
Notable Aquamarine Gemstones
The largest gem-quality aquamarine gemstone ever mined was 19 inches long. The largest cut aquamarine is named the Dom Pedro and is an astounding 10,363 carats. It measures 14 inches long and is currently on display in the Smithsonian.
Another famous aquamarine is the incredible stone housed in Queen Elizabeth’s tiara. Her tiara is an exquisite piece of platinum jewelry that has evolved several times over the years. Having larger stones swapped in and exchanging her pendant for the center stone in the tiara. The tiara is one of only a few items of jewelry that the late queen commissioned herself. Many other of the royal family jewels have been passed down for generations but this tiara she special ordered from Garrard in 1957.
The Gemology of Aquamarine
Like emerald, aquamarine is a member of the beryl family (along with morganite, heliodor, and others). Unlike emerald, it is frequently free of flaws and often occurs in large crystals. Aquamarine’s main pigment comes from iron. The color spectrum of aquamarine varies from very pale blue to a deep blue, the finest specimens being the deepest in color.
Most aquamarine stones have a subtle green component, and in some markets, a deep greenish blue is the most desirable.
Brazil is the most prolific supplier of aquamarine where it is often found in shades of blue-green.
Aquamarine has a refractive index of 1.577 to 1.583 and is doubly refractive. Aquamarine’s specific gravity is 2.72 and it has a Mohs hardness of 7.5-8.0. For comparison, this means that it is softer than Sapphire, harder than Quartz, and similar to Topaz. This makes it a very durable stone that is suitable for regular wear. But, care should still be taken to ensure that the stone is not damaged.
Caring For and Cleaning Aquamarine
To maintain the brilliance of this beautiful gemstone, it should be immersed in jewelry cleaner or in lukewarm soapy water and cleaned with a small bristle brush. Don’t use ultrasonic cleaners on aquamarine. Since aquamarine is not typically very vibrant in color, it can look more dull if it gets dirty. If you notice that your stone isn’t looking quite as brilliant as you remember, it might just be dirty. You can try cleaning it at home or bringing it in to your local jeweler for a more professional cleaning.
While aquamarine is a durable gemstone it is still vulnerable to damage from knocks against hard objects when being worn. Take off your aquamarine jewelry when doing household chores, going to the gem, or otherwise working with your hands.
With proper care a piece of aquamarine jewelry can last generations being handed down and treasured for years to come.
Aquamarine is more than a birthstone. Its beauty is in its purity of color. The blue green hue is not overpowering but an understated appeal. It has an elegance and subtlety that is lost with more vibrant gemstones.
If you are looking for the perfect piece of aquamarine jewelry, you have come to the right place. At Arden Jewelers, our gemologists understand and appreciate the natural beauty of color gems, and we find mountings that accentuate this beauty to its full extent. You can browse our collection online or visit the store to see even more examples of this beautiful and enchanting gemstone.