As the birthstone for March, aquamarine is commonly found in jewelry store display cases. However, unless you are born in March, you probably don’t know a lot about this unique gemstone. Getting its name from the Latin aqua marina, meaning “sea water,” these gemstones are known for their unique watery appearance.
What is an Aquamarine?
Aquamarine is another variety of the mineral beryl just like emerald. Unlike emeralds, aquamarines are the green-blue to blue variety of beryl. Generally, these stones are a light pastel greenish-blue color. Heat treatments can give aquamarines a more bluish hue. These stones are often found in high elevation areas, and Pakistan is one of the major aquamarine producers.
Aquamarine stones are known for having long, hollow tubes, which is a distinctive feature of the beryl family of minerals. Inclusions aren’t uncommon for aquamarines. Inclusions could include metallic bits, such as biotite, hematite, ilmenite, phlogopite, pyrite, and rutile in skeletal crystals. Aquamarine can also include other crystals, like apatite, cassiterite, epidote, garnet, muscovite, quartz, and tourmaline.
Types of Aquamarine
There are very few types of aquamarine. The first is the beautiful faceted gemstone that we are used to seeing. Another variety is the cat’s eye aquamarine. This variety of aquamarine has a unique characteristic that distinguishes it from other aquamarine stones. This rare phenomenon is called the cat’s eye chatoyancy, which is an optical trait caused by a reflection of light that looks like the slit eye of a cat.
Another rare type of aquamarine is the asterism gem. Star aquamarines are even rarer than cat’s eye stones, and they can fetch insane prices.
Finally, the Maxixe aquamarine is a very dark blue variety of stone that appeared on the market in the 1970s. Now, the stones have mostly disappeared from the market.
Where Are Aquamarines Found?
Aquamarine gems have mostly come from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais over the past couple of centuries. These gemstones are found in primary and secondary pegmatite deposits that can be found in the eastern portion of the state. To get to the gems, miners climb steep paths to places at least 3,000 meters above the ground on the sides of cliffs.
Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Zambia, and Mozambique are also common places to find aquamarine. You can even find these gems in the United States in places such as Colorado and California. Aquamarine has also been found in China, Russia, Ukraine, Myanmar, and more.
4 C’s for Aquamarines
Much like diamonds, aquamarines are graded to determine their value on the market. Here are the things you should look for when purchasing an aquamarine.
Unlike some of the other gemstones we have discussed, the color range for aquamarine is very small. Colors must be blue or greenish-blue, and the most valuable color is a dark blue to slightly greenish blue with moderately strong intensity. Generally speaking, the purer and more intense the blue color, the more the stone will be worth. However, most stones are a light greenish-blue color.
Faceted aquamarines are usually eye-clean. Some crystals might have liquid inclusions, but usually, finished gems don’t have many clarity issues. Stones that have visible inclusions are generally used to make cabochons, beads, or carvings.
These blue gems can be cut into nearly any shape, but cutters are known for creating emerald, round, or oval cuts. Well-cut stones are common on the market.
Aquamarines can come in a wide variety of sizes. In fact, some crystals weigh up to 100 pounds. However, these large stones aren’t always usable in jewelry, so they are saved for center stones.
Caring for Aquamarines
Caring for aquamarines is easy. Using just warm water, mild dish soap, and a toothbrush, you can quickly clean this gem. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe options as well because aquamarines are relatively hard stones.
If you are looking for beautiful aquamarine jewelry, look no further than Noe’s Jewelry in Raymore, Missouri. If you have any questions, call us today at 816-322-7227.
Check out the other stones in our Gemstone Series Guides: