A pool of clear blue you can fall into forever. That is what having your own aquamarine means. Just ask Queen Elizabeth II. The people of Brazil gave HRM some truly exquisite blue bling in 1953 for her coronation – a giant emerald-cut aquamarine that is at the centrepiece of her diadem, along with a matching diamond and aquamarine necklace and bracelet. When worn together the whole effect was that of a fountain of light.
We’re can’t all be queens, but that doesn’t mean one can’t have an aquamarine of one’s own. Like any gemstone, an aquamarine is an investment. Immerse yourself in knowledge by reading our ten true blue facts before you buy.
1. What is Aquamarine?
Aquamarine is the name given to the blue coloured variety of the mineral, beryl. Emeralds are beryl too. So you’re in good company! Aquamarine contains trace elements of iron. As a result, is a very hard beryl and therefore extremely durable.
2. The Mythology of the Stone.
Aquamarine is the birthstone for those born in March. Closely affiliated with love and long-lasting marriage, it’s the traditional gemstone for celebrating a 19th wedding anniversary. In ancient times, it was thought to have the power to calm stormy waves and was given to sailors to protect them on lengthy voyages. The stones are said to be the prized by mermaids as well.
3. Location, location, location.
Mines in Brazil and Argentina give birth to the majority of aquamarines on the market. However, Africa produces some of the world’s most intense stones from mines in Kenya and Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania. Reputable dealers will be able to provide proof of origin for your aquamarine.
Aquamarine gets its name from the Latin word for water – aqua marina. Look for that watery quality when selecting your stone. A clear strong blue with a hint of sea foam green is perfect. Some gemstone aficionados prefer a light sky blue, cerulean or swimming pool blue. The most valuable colour is dark blue to slightly greenish blue with a moderately strong intensity. A good rule of thumb is the purer and more intense the blue, the more valuable the stone. Any cloudiness is undesirable.
5. Natural vs Heat Treated
These gemstones are sometimes heat treated. The heat causes a chemical reaction that removes any naturally occurring green tones. If you’re after a greener aquamarine ask for an “unheated” stone.
The best quality Aquamarines are eye-clean transparent gems. As they’re part of the beryl family, some gems may have hollow tubelike inclusions (like peppermint crisp), known as rain. Inclusions can inhibit transparency and sparkle and therefore devalue the stone.
7. Choosing the setting.
As aquamarine is cool toned, it is best complemented by silver, platinum and white gold. However, if you prefer a yellow gold setting, look out for deeper blue-green aquamarines as opposed to lighter ones. An aquamarine of that shade is better flattered by golden hues.
8. The Emerald Cut
Certain cuts enhance the natural colour of aquamarine. One of these is the emerald cut. The emerald cut’s broad facets produce a hall of mirrors effect that results in startling vitreous or glass-like colour.
9. The Barion Cut
The Barion cut, created by a South African cutter Basil Watermeyer, is also well-suited to aquamarine. It combines a round brilliant cut for the pavilion (or face) with complex step cutting of the crown. Round brilliant cut stones produce an intense sparkle, while the step cutting enhances the stone’s clarity.
10. Is Size Important?
That depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a showy piece on a budget, these blue beauties represent great value for money. Unlike diamonds, their price does not rise incrementally depending on carat size. This is because they’re found in nature in much larger sizes.
Smaller stones are rarely saturated enough to be attractive. However, some mines in Africa produce aquamarines known for their intense colour in sizes under 5 carats. These stones can sell for more per carat than larger stones of the same colour.