Aquamarine belongs to the beryl family, a precious mineral found in a spectrum of colours. Aquamarine is Beryl’s second favourite child. Emerald remains more popular, but this cyan gem is no wallflower to her green sister. Just ask any contemporary queen or princess swanning about a state gala in an aquamarine tiara.
“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
― The Four Chambered Heart, Anaïs Nin
The name comes from the Latin phrase aqua marinus meaning “waters of the sea”. Owing to its colour – which ranges from the water off Bakhoven beach where the sand meets the sea, to the hint of a storm off Simon’s Town – aquamarine has always been tied to the ocean. Once it was thought that aquamarine had the power to calm wild waters and tame the waves. Mariners kept the stone with them on long voyages as a form of protection. Even ancient myths tell of aquamarine-bejewelled mermaids enticing sailors into watery love affairs.
Aquamarine’s main attraction is its water-like beauty. The best aquamarines are a fresh blue, think the skyline in Kalk Bay on a September morning. Many buyers favour the lighter cyan, cerulean or tropical ocean blues for this jewel. However, a hint of seafoam green can give the gemstone a wonderful extra dimension. Add aquamarine’s startling clarity, and you begin to understand what makes this stone so desirable. But, you’d mistaken to think colour and clarity were all this oceanic gem has to offer. Trace elements of iron make them hard and extremely durable, adding longevity to the jewel’s list of attributes. Hence, it’s a gemstone that can be handed down through generations and never lose its beauty.
It is an easy stone to wear, suiting all skin tones. However, blue-eyed people will find its vitreous lustre especially complementary. Because aquamarines form in the earth in such large sizes they can be cut to whatever shape one’s heart desires. Certain cuts, however, really show off the gemstone’s transparency and make for more striking jewelry. One of these was created by a South African master gem-cutter, Basil Watermeyer and is known as the Barion cut.
On a more esoteric level, aquamarine is believed to release anxiety and fear through its general calming effects.
Aquamarine jewellery is the perfect gift for anyone born in March. The Romans considered it an appropriate morning gift from a groom to his bride upon consummation as they believed it absorbed the atmosphere of young love: a romantic notion that passed into medieval times when it was thought to reawaken the love of married couples. For modern couples, it is the traditional gem to celebrate a 19th wedding anniversary.