The birthstone of March has a long history shrouded in legend and sea lore of the past. The Aquamarine, the beautiful sea-blue, crystal clear stone has more regal roots in gemology sharing a branch on the Beryl family tree along side the precious Emerald.
The Beryl species of gemstones offers an array of gems, to include the Emerald, which we will discuss in May, the Morganite, Golden Beryl and the Aquamarine. The chemical composition of the beryl family is identical, Aluminum beryllium silicate. The trace amounts of iron give the Aquamarine its light blue hue and distinguish it from other gems in the family.
The seawater color of the Aquamarine lends to its name which is derived the Latin word for seawater; “aqua” meaning “water” and “marinus” meaning “of the sea”.
The colors range from a natural sea green, sky blue and dark blue. The best stones can be found in Brazil, Mozambique and Afghanistan that produce the best sky-blue aquamarine. The best dark blue stones are found in Nigeria and Madagascar. The dark blue variety is the most valuable and sought after now, although it has not always been that way. Many centuries ago, the pale sea-blue color was the most desirable.
The Aquamarine has a Mohs hardness of 7.5-8 and its transparency can range from clear to opaque. The more clear gems are usually cut into faceted gems of all types, whereas the more opaque stones are formed into cabochons. These cabochons can occur with chatoyancy (cat’s eye effect) or asterism (star effect). Aquamarines are dichroic, meaning their color changes with the direction of the light. Beryls are particularly well suited for the rectangular or square cuts as their original shape is a hexagonal prism.
The Aquamarine is said to be the protector of sailors, originating in the treasure chest of mermaids. In the Middle Ages, many believed that simply wearing aquamarine was a literal antidote for poisoning. The Romans believed an aquamarine carved into the shape of a frog would reconcile enemies and make new friends. And the “Sumerians, Egyptians, and Hebrews also admired and valued aquamarine greatly. It was a symbol of happiness and everlasting youth.” (jewelsforme.com). The gem is renowned to have the ability to enhance tranquility and uplift the spirit. It is supposed to release anxiety and fear. No wonder the aquamarine is associated with the sea. The sea is also so tranquil and peaceful!
So wear the Aquamarine because it will protect you, give you peace and confidence. It will help you make friends and reconcile with enemies as well as curing all your ailments. Or just wear it because it matches perfectly with your little blue summer dress that you will wear while strolling along the beach this summer.
So, until next month, when we will discover the history of one of the 4 precious gems, the Emerald, another branch on the regal Beryl family tree.
The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe