Aquamarine: Grading, Science & Fun Facts About March’s Birthstone
Aquamarine:The “Sea Water” Birthstone of March
March’s birthstone, this gem is reminiscent of all things wonderful about water: spring rain that makes the flowers bloom, swimming the ocean and the clear skies of a summer day. Where a sapphire’s deep blue has connotations of royalty and refinement, the aquamarine lends itself to a woman with natural spirit, like a boho bride. She’s the one who longs for the waves year round, but smiles with the little gifts of spring. You’ll find a this stone on her finger as a cocktail ring at the latest Palm Beach social event, or studding her ears to compliment a pair of blue eyes. It’s no doubt why aquamarine is one of the most favorite of the colored gemstones for fine custom jewelry! (Plus—it makes a great “something blue” for a bride on her wedding day!)
What is an Aquamarine?
Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family, making it a relative of the emerald with the same grade of 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale. The two stones, however, are very different. Aquamarine is known for its pale blue color and the closest it gets to its Columbian cousin’s green is a dark teal. This is because of the presence of iron in the gemstone’s chemical makeup. When iron interacts with beryl, the result is a lovely blue. But it takes more than some stray iron atoms to produce an aquamarine—thousands years of heat and pressure in the perfect environment.
The gemstone is formed in pegmatites, which are rocks that formed during the last stages of magma cooling and crystallization. When magma and its heat interact with these rocks, aquamarine is formed. This is why aquamarine is most commonly found in mountainous areas. The stone is mined in many countries, such as Nigeria, Kenya, Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Russia. However, the most valuable aquamarine stones come from Brazil.
Grading an Aquamarine: Color, Clarity, Carat and Cut
Aquamarine is named for resembling the clear water of the sea. Hence, the name of the gemstone comes from Latin for “seawater:”
This is a major indication to anyone that the color of the gemstone is the primary factor in the gemstone’s grade. With a range in color from pale blue to teal, the most prized hue is a true light, sea-blue. The more true the stone’s color is to a tropical or Mediterranean paradise, the more valuable it will be. Too light or too dark and the stone’s grade will drop.
Aquamarine Clarity: As a Type 1 gemstone, the majority of aquamarines are naturally eye-clean, meaning they have very few inclusions (flaws), if any.
Aquamarine Carat: Aquamarines do not increase drastically in price the larger the carat size, since large stones are commonly found. A large stone will fetch a price similar to a smaller one of a better grade. (This is why these sea-colored gemstones make excellent centerpieces for custom engagement rings, especially for women who love the beach.)
Aquamarine Cut: Aquamarines can be found in an array of cuts due to their popularity in fine jewelry. However, there are two cuts that play to the gemstone’s the lovely color: emerald and barion cuts. These work best to show the depth of the color and play with the light.
Fun Facts, Myths and Lore About Aquamarine Gemstones
Aquamarine is the stone of the Scorpio zodiac sign.
Sailors once wore aquamarine to keep them safe and prevent seasickness.
The Romans believed that if a frog was carved on the gemstone, it could make an enemy your friend.
Pliny the Elder listed the stone as an excellent cure for eye diseases. (His nephew, Pliny the Younger would also gain fame for recording the events of Pompeii from a boat as the city fell to Mount Vesuvius.)
Whether you need the perfect gift or want to design a custom engagement ring or jewelry piece, aquamarine is a gemstone you can’t go wrong with. Here at Hamilton, we specialize in fine jewelry and will work with you to find or design the perfect piece. Come into one of our in-store locations to see our lovely aquamarine jewelry in person, or discover them on our website.