The birthstone for March, aquamarine is the most common and one of the most popular members of the beryl family, cousin to emerald, morganite, heliodor, and goshenite. Aquamarine's color and clarity capture the beauty of the sea. Rough aquamarine is easy to cut, so lapidaries are able to create new, imaginative aquamarine cuts and shapes.
|Aquamarine's toughness, durability, and high ranking on Mohs' hardness scale makes it ideal for jewelry, and it requires no special care. Unless an aquamarine has feather or liquid inclusions, it should be safe to clean it in ultrasonic or steam cleaners. If you are unsure, simply use warm soapy water and a soft brush.|
|Aquamarine occurs in ocean-like shades of greenish-blue, blue-green, and blue. |
|As with other colored gems, the most valuable stones are those with the richest color saturation. While the slightly greenish-blue hues are generally considered most valuable, aquamarine is a beloved stone in all shades. Throughout its long history of popularity, different hues of aquamarine have fallen in and out of favor. While green-tinted aquas were most popular in the 19th century, the sky-blue gems are more popular in jewelry today.|
Name Origin and Meaning
Possibly the most appropriate name in all of gemology, ocean-like aquamarine gets its name from the Latin aqua meaning "water" and mare or marinus meaning "sea" or "ocean."
In very rare cases, aquamarines cut en cabochon can display chatoyancy (the cat's-eye effect).
Discovery and History
As with many gemstones, the discovery of aquamarine was so long ago, it is unknown. Amulets featuring aquamarines have been dated as old as nearly 500 B.C., proving that people have long used aquamarine for decorative and medicinal purposes. The modern March birthstone, aquamarine pre-dates even the Roman Empire and has been highly prized for thousands of years.
While aquamarine crystals have been found weighing multiple tons, the largest gem-quality aquamarine was found in 1910 in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The 243-pound stone was 18 inches long, had a diameter of 15.5 inches, and was cut into numerous stones weighing a total of more than 100,000 carats. A piece weighing 13 pounds can be seen in the American Museum of Natural History.
Large and beautiful aquamarine crystals have been discovered in the Colorado Rockies on Mount Antero. At over 14,000 feet, it is the highest spot in North America where gemstones have been found.