Its blue colour comes predominately from iron and, when cut, the stone is generally clear of inclusions and can occur in large sizes. This is because aquamarine is generally found in large crystals with a flawless clarity from which large stones can be cut.
Aquamarine needs to be of considerable size to ensure a blue hue with small stones generally not exhibiting colour visible enough to be attractive.
The gem is a member of the beryl group, and oft referred to as a sister of emerald (also a member of the Beryl family). Beryl is a silicate mineral in which the silicate molecule combines with the metals aluminium and beryllium.
Alluvial deposits of the gem are more favourable than aquamarine from its original rocks. This is because while they are tumbled in the streams, the harder, heavier gem mineral is separated from the unfavourable softer, lighter minerals, which fall away to be ground into particles of sand or clay.
This process also facilitates for any flawed portions of the gem to break away, leaving only clean gem material for the prospector to discover.
The deeper blue aquamarines are more valuable, therefore it is quite common for aquamarine to be heat treated to improve colour by removing the greenish tinge commonly found in the mined rough. In fact, most aquamarines exhibiting a blue shade were once greenish-brownish yellow in colour.
Heat treating is a permanent and widely accepted practice by the jewellery industry. The stones are generally heated to between 250-720 degrees celsius for varied times, and the resulting colour is permanent.
While aquamarine is found in numerous locations, Madagascar was one of the earliest known sources. Brazil is now the major source of the stone.
Historically, this modern birthstone for March was the stone of the sea goddesses, often carried by sailors and fishermen as a protective trinket.
Aquamarine is known as a purifying and cleansing stone and is often rubbed on the skin to heal skin problems. It is also famous for its soothing and calming qualities and is said to bring joy, happiness and peace. The anniversary gemstone for the 19th year of marriage, it also is recognised for helping renew relationships and ensure a long and happy future for couples. The aquamarine reputedly ensures good health, courage, and alertness of mind. It is said to stimulate one's psychic powers by reducing the conscious mind's hold on the psychic mind.
This gem is a favourite of modern designers due to its versatility and the range of shapes and sizes that is readily available. Traditionally available in emerald cuts, other cuts such as oval, cushion and princess have recently become equally popular.
Aesthetically, the selling point of the aquamarine is that it can look stunning set in either white gold or platinum. Although not as popular, yellow gold can also be used. Aquamarine can make dainty and elegant jewellery pieces by themselves, or beautifully compliment a diamond setting.
Hardness: 7.50 to 8.0
Variety of: Beryl, sister of the emerald
Found: Australia, Brazil (major source), China, Columbia, India, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Modern birthstone: Aquamarine
Traditional birthstone: Bloodstone
Mystical birthstone: Jade
Ayurvedic birthstone: Bloodstone
Pisces (19 February - 20 March) Amethyst, Aries
Taurus (21 March - 19 April) Bloodstone or Red Carnelian
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