Aquamarine is the modern-day birthstone for the month of March.
Origin & Facts
Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family. The beryl family is comprised of many stones including the green emerald, pink morganite, rare red bixbite, yellowish-green heliodor and colorless Goshenite.
Most aquamarine comes from Brazil, but it is also mined in Africa (Mozambique, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania), Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia. However, the very finest stones are known as Santa Maria, and come from the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Brazil.
As well, those stones with a similarly desirable hue come from Mozambique. They are called Santa Maria Africana.
The Espirito Santo (holy spirit) is another named color of aquamarine from the Brazilian state of the same name. Its color is not as intense, however. Other famous regions include Fortaleza and Marambaia.
Perhaps the most famous aquamarine from Santa Maria weighed 26 kg (over 57 lbs) and was cut in Idar-Oberstein, Germany in 1992. It was the largest aquamarine ever to have been cut. I saw an absolutely perfect 103.72 carat oval sample of this monolith on display at the Constantin-Wild booth at the AGTA Gem Fair in early February of this year. Not for sale.
Interestingly enough, the buyers from Tiffany & Company were buying colored gems from the cutters from Idar-Oberstein. Note to self: buy well-cut colored stones from the Idar-Oberstein Germans.
Most aquas on the market today are faceted stones, or faceted beads, however they can be cut as cabochons and are known in some cases to produce an asterism. An asterism is a cat's eye or star effect which can be very pleasing.
Unlike its beryl cousin the emerald, however, aquamarine is nearly completely free of inclusions, making it a favorite of creative stone cutters all over the world. Without cloudy sections or feathers to concern themselves, cutters are able to fashion exotic new cuts with ease.
This graceful stone ranks a 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of hardness. If a diamond is a 10, the aquamarine is slighty softer, but still very hardy and wearable in all forms of jewelry.
Aquamarine Color & Style Today
The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin words for water and sea, aqua and mare. This birthstone can range in color from a near-colorless almost pale blue through blue-green and teal to the most-valued deep blue aqua color.
It's a deep pale blue, if that makes sense... the richest expression of light blue possible. Because of this, nearly all aquas are heated at very high temperature to achieve the deepest, most vibrant and desirable blue color.
Although it's certainly a matter of opinion, my mother and I absolutely adore the sublime beauty of a pale blue-green or teal unheated aquamarine. It's a color like no other. However, like a cucumber in brine, once it's heated, the color change is permanent. And 99% of the aquamarine you will see in stores has been cooked, literally, until it's blue in the face.
There is something really transcendently beautiful about a blue-eyed woman of any age wearing aquamarines. Can you imagine a soft, simple, flowing gown on a blue-eyed beauty, her neck adorned with a spectacular suite of aquamarines and diamonds? Wow. Just as beautiful is the vision of an elegant older woman in a smart pale blue suit, eyes shining from the aquamarine earrings setting off her eye color.
Legend, Healing & Folklore
As for the legends, the folklore and the healing properties associated with aquamarine, there are myriad and all of them are good. It has classic "true blue" symbolism. It is beautiful and crystal clear, inspiring trust, harmony, clarity, lucidity and mutual feelings. And of course, the eternal nature of a clear, blue sky and the heavens.
Further, its natural blue (which is nearly always enhanced as mentioned above) is the result of the presence of iron in the stone. Therefore, strength is thought to be an added benefit of aquamarine. It is also said to battle effectively against anxiety in healing properties.
Most compelling, perhaps, is its association with the oceans, mermaids and sailors. Water is an essentially feminine state, and aquamarine seems to have capture the lucid blue of the oceans. Some say it originated in the treasure chests belonging to gorgeous mermaids. It has been regarded as the lucky talisman of sailors since ancient times, thought to ensure safe seas and ward off seasickness. It makes sense that it is the birthstone of March, the month of Pisces.