Aquamarine is a popular blue gemstone and is part of the hexagonal crystal family of gemstones. It has a vitreous greenish-blue luster, a gemstone that represents emotional clarity.
What is Aquamarine?
This stone belongs to the beryl family of minerals. Aquamarine, the name given to this beryl type, is a compression of two words—aqua and marina—the English equivalent of the Latin word for “seawater.” Which is quite fitting due to its greenish-blue color.
Origin of Aquamarine
Aquamarine colors range from greenish blue to blue-green. Larger stones are usually more intense in color, with the darker ones more valuable.
Early cultures such as the Sumerians, Egyptians, Hebrews, and Greeks admired aquamarine gemstones. Aquamarine beads were discovered with Egyptian mummies, and it was believed that the High Priest of the Second Temple of Solomon wore aquamarine stones engraved with the six tribes of Israel. And about two thousand years ago, Greeks made aquamarine intaglios (rings).
Aquamarine belongs to the same beryl species related to emerald, morganite, and golden beryl. Hence, it is found where these gemstones are mined.
They can be found in Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Ukraine, and the United States. Brazil, however, is the best source—especially those mined in the states of Bahia, Espirito Santo, Paraiba, Rio Grande de Norte, Ceara, and Minas Gerais. They have produced high-quality aquamarine for more than 300 years. More than 20 active mines across the country supply the world’s needs for this gemstone.
Aquamarine is the birthstone jewelry for March. But even those not born this month love the gemstone’s cool and tranquil color. They find it a perfect complement to any skin tone or setting. And it is a highly-priced gem that can be used in any jewelry type, such as aquamarine rings, necklaces, and bracelets.
Look for an even blue-green color
Just like any other gemstone, color is a vital color for aquamarine. Aquamarine is typically light blue with a greenish or turquoise hue. Gem experts prefer aquamarine with even color, so should you.
When choosing the right gemstone, pick one with no darker or lighter color patches within the gem.
Take note, however, that there are lab-brown aquamarines. Several manufacturers make beryl in various colors, such as green, pink, red, and blue. But only two manufacturers, Tairus and Malossi, regularly make the right kind of aquamarine.
Go for clarity
Most aquamarines in the market have no imperfections or inclusions that the naked eye can see. So if you are looking for a cut and shaped gem, always go for the clear and translucent stone.
An exception to the rule is when you buy a piece of jewelry focused on an unpolished and rough gem like vintage aquamarine jewelry.
Go for a good cut
Like diamonds, cut (and shape) is crucial to aquamarine jewelry—it determines the degree of its sparkle.
Unlike tough diamonds, rough aquamarines can be cut into almost any shape. Because of this, you should be extra careful in choosing good cut quality. Oval cuts and rectangular, oval cuts are very popular, in all types of jewelry.
Take advantage of aquamarine’s carat price
Aquamarine gemstones are closely related to green emeralds. But while emeralds are small and hard to find without imperfections, aquamarines are not. Therefore, you can get a larger aquamarine than an emerald for the same amount of money. Another thing is that the per-carat value of aquamarines doesn’t incrementally change as emeralds or other gemstones.
Simply put, a 1.5-carat aquamarine will roughly be worth the same, on a per-carat basis, as a 0.5-carat emerald. In other words, for the same amount of money, assuming you are not fixated on a more expensive stone, you can buy an aquamarine that is larger than an emerald.
While aquamarine can be found all over the globe, the finest ones come from Brazil. However, the Brazilian government restricts mechanized mining, and Brazilians mine aquamarines using traditional methods. The reason for this is to protect local tribes and the environment.
So when buying this gemstone, go for those from Brazil on any other country supplying conflict-free gems taken from mines using ethical methods. Buy from jewelers abiding by the NAJ (National Association of Jewellers) Code of Ethics.
Consider it an alternative to diamonds
Aquamarines give off breathtaking sparkle with their light blue color, just as diamonds do. They are more affordable, on a per-carat basis, than diamonds. And their blue color suits almost any complexion as diamonds do.
So if you are on a budget, go for aquamarine as a viable alternative to diamonds. It is currently a popular and coveted gemstone that competes well with diamonds.
Be careful when buying online
Though the online jewelry market is expanding by the year, buying online is far from perfect. So if you got your jewelry item online, carefully check its measurements once you receive it.
Using whatever measuring instruments at hand, measure all sizes indicated in the online catalog of the store you bought it from. This will give you an idea of how it looks the moment you wear it.
Choose a robust setting
While aquamarine looks stunning in rings, its hardness makes it less durable than a diamond or sapphire. So if you use aquamarine on an engagement ring, make sure it is set in robust gold or platinum to protect it from knocks and scratches.
Best Aquamarine Settings
What’s the best way to mount an aquamarine on jewelry? The beauty of the gemstone will not be diminished if expert jewelers would go by the following settings:
This setting type will hold the gemstone in such a way that light will enter the stone from many angles. This will increase the gem’s return of light or brilliance when seen from above.
Open-back settings may use prongs or “invisible” settings to keep the gemstone in place.
If the open-back does not appeal to you, get the closed-back. However, this setting type will be less sparkly as it blocks light from entering the gemstone through the pavilion.
Mounting techniques for this type of setting are the bezel, flush, or “hammered,” and channel.
Aquamarines typically have a light blue color. Don’t choose a metal with dominant colors like yellow, gold, brass, or bronze to make it stand out. To get the most out of its natural beauty, it should be set on metals that will highlight its colors, like white gold, platinum, or silver.
Where to Buy Aquamarine Jewelry
Jewelry lovers find aquamarine’s greenish-blue color very attractive and soothing to the eyes and nerves. Aquamarine jewelry has caught the attention of both celebrities and ordinary people. Hence it is available in major jewelry stores. However, buying the jewelry type that’s worth your money can be difficult. To ease things up, here are two tips to help you out;
- Be sure of its color. Real aquamarine is pale blue, very much similar to shallow seawater. Some may have slight yellow or green tints. But that’s normal.
- Buy from reputable stores, some of which are shown below.
Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. is an American company established in 1837 in New York City, headquartered on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.
The company is one of the world’s most storied luxury design stores with its innovative design, extraordinary craftsmanship, and unparallel creativity.
Tiffany is known for its luxury goods, particularly their diamond and sterling silver jewelry lines. They sell on-site and online.
Jared is part of Signet Jewelers Limited, the largest specialty jewelry retailer in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. It operates about 3,600 jewelry stores under the brand names Kay Jewelers, Zales, and Jared, the “Galleria of Jewelry.”
As a stand-alone, Jared is a $6 billion company from its retail sales of jewelry, watches, and associated services. The company goes by the mantra of “expressing romance and appreciation through bridal jewelry and gift-giving.”
Blue Nile is another American company founded in 1999 and based in Seattle, Washington State. It is the world’s largest online diamond jewelry dealer specializing in engagement and wedding rings.
Aquamarine is rare and expensive, especially the large ones with intense color. They are often free of inclusions and as clear as water. Aquamarine jewelry is perfect for evening wear because they glitter and gleam under muted light conditions. Wearing them during the day is no less exciting as they exhibit a soothing coolness.
Now that you’ve learned more about aquamarine jewelry, you might be interested in other stones. Check out our post, “A Beginner’s Guide to Rose Aura Quartz.”