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Aquamarine gemstones featured in white diamond dangly earings

Aquamarine Guide

Sparkling blue hues and lush teals are signatures of the magical aquamarine, the stone of eternal youth and a sailor’s talisman that symbolizes protection on stormy seas. In marriage, it brings happiness and tranquility.

What is an aquamarine?

Despite the aquatic lore surrounding aquamarine, it was first mined far from the sea—in Siberia. Today, deposits are found in Pakistan, Russia, China and even California and Colorado. Aquamarine from Brazil is the most valuable—this is where the Queen of England has her aquamarine jewels mined. Aquamarine is the March birthstone.
A cushion cut aquamarine gemstone is surrounded by a white sapphire halo on a white gold chain
Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0
via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original 

Mineral: Beryl 

Origins: Brazil, Pakistan, Russia, China 

Symbols: Calm, Healing 

Properties: Creativity, Joy 

Durability: 7.5 to 8.0


 

ENHANCEMENTS

 
Heated to improve color and clarity 

CARE

 
Basic Gemstone Care 

SIMILAR GEMSTONES

 


An aquamarine gemstone in unpolished crystal form

What to Look for in Aquamarines

 
Aquamarines are easy to find—and afford—in larger sizes than some other gemstones. But bigger isn’t always better with these jewels. More often, aquamarines are valued for the depth and clarity of their color. Below, we’ve gathered the most important points to guide you as you traverse the seas of aquamarine jewelry.

COLOR

 
Gemstone color is the most obvious feature of a gem. Aquamarines range from mystical icy blues to the darkest teals of the ocean, depending on how much iron is present in the structure of the gem. Deeply saturated blues—closer to the intensity of a sapphire—are more highly valued. Larger gemstones are typically a vibrant blue color, while smaller stones tend to be paler. Popular color variations of aquamarine are identified by their trade names: 

Brazilian Aquamarine: “Brazilian” refers to the blue-green color of this type of aquamarine, not that it’s mined in Brazil—although it can be. 

Madagascar Aquamarine: This aquamarine isn’t necessarily sourced in Madagascar—rather, the name refers to its medium-blue tone. 

Santa Maria Aquamarine: This aquamarine is from the Santa Maria mine in Brazil and is known for its deeply saturated blue color. 

Maxixe: Pronounced “mah-she-she,” this aquamarine is a less common variety with a brilliant—albeit unstable—blue color. The blue fades over time into a yellowish-brown when exposed to daylight. Because of this, Blue Nile doesn’t carry maxixe aquamarines." 

An Illustration of 3 differently colored gemstones from the side


CUT

 
The cut of a gemstone highlights the best features of a gem. The cut of your aquamarine enhances its depth of color and gives it a terrific sparkle. Aquamarine facets beautifully. Step cuts, such as emerald and baguette cuts, or a Barions mixed cut showcase the gemstone’s amazing color and clarity. 

An Illustration of a well-cut gemstone from the side


CLARITY

 
The clarity of a gemstone depends on whether it has inclusions, which are gas bubbles, liquid, fractures, or crystals embedded in the gem. Aquamarines are a Type 1 gemstone, meaning most stones have an “eye-clean” level of clarity, with few inclusions. But inclusions aren’t always a bad thing—these hitchhikers can add sparkle as they produce an otherworldly reaction called chatoyancy when they’re in the right light. There are two types of chatoyancy that pertain to aquamarines: Cat’s eye chatoyancy is a rare phenomenon where light reflects off inclusions and creates a luminescent beam, similar to that of a cat’s eye. Star chatoyancy is even more rare than cat’s eye. Also known as asterism, it occurs when the light of several cat’s eyes reflect off of each other, creating a star, or asterisk, effect. 

An Illustration of a gemstone with very few inclusions from the side


SIZE (CARAT) 


Unlike diamond size, which is weighed in carats, gemstone size is assessed based on diameter in millimeters. This gives you a more accurate picture of what the gemstone will look like in its setting. 

An illustration of a gemstone from the side with a ruler over the gem's table


ENHANCEMENT

 
Many aquamarines are heat-treated to enhance their vibrant blue color. This process doesn’t harm the stone, and the effects are permanent, but because of the unnatural process, heat-treated aquamarine costs less than an untreated aquamarine of the same color. We treat our gemstones with only the highest quality techniques. 

An illustration of a gemstone being treated with oiling enhancement method

HARDNESS & WEARABILITY

The Mohs Scale determines how hard—or durable—a gemstone is. Aquamarine registers between 7.5 to 8, which means it isn’t as hard as a diamond, so it may be prone to chipping and scratching. With a little extra care, though, it’s durable enough to withstand day-to-day wear.
gemstone being treated with oiling enhancement method

Choosing the Right Aquamarine Jewelry 


Is your aquamarine piece just for special occasions, or will it be worn often? For engagement rings or jewelry that will see everyday wear, an elegant round or cushion shape will help prevent chipped edges over time. If the opera is your only destination, a large baguette cut in a ring or pendant might have just the right amount of dazzle for you. As always, choosing a piece of jewelry should boil down to whether you really love it.

Famous Aquamarine Gemstones 


Aquamarine was sacred to the Greek God Neptune, who was said to have gifted it to his enchanting sirens. British royalty has also held a soft spot for aquamarine, from the aquamarine tiaras and necklaces of Queen Elizabeth II to the stunning emerald-cut aquamarine ring famously worn by Princess Diana. Aquamarine engagement rings are a beautiful departure from more traditional diamond-encrusted ones, and this icy stone is gorgeous in pendants and earrings.

How to Care for Your Aquamarine Jewelry

It’s easy to keep your aquamarine jewelry beautiful and sparkling. To clean it, just soak it in warm, soapy water for a few minutes, then give it a gentle scrub with an old toothbrush before rinsing it and drying it with a soft cloth. Store your jewelry in a soft bag. For more information, read our guide on caring for your gemstone jewelry.

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