Aquamarine, literally translated from the Latin, means "Water of the Sea", a name given to this shade of beryl both for its unique color, and for its soft, watery translucence. The gemstone is believed to be a healer of one's body by both soothing and cleansing it, as ocean water would.
Aquamarine is part of the beryl family of gemstones, which also includes the well-known emerald, pink/peach morganite, yellow heliodor, and red beryl. Being part of the same family means all these gemstones share the same chemical composition. Their color differs only because of the trace elements present during their formation.
Featured above is the largest beryl ring that we have for sale. This 49.66 carat green beryl is often the original color of many aquamarines before the heat treating process begins. This gem has the same chemical composition as aquamarine, it simply grew in an environment with different trace elements than aqua, making its primary body color green. Shop this ring here.
When we are buying aquamarines in our marketplaces, we are looking for stones that have these characteristics: pure blue color, free of major inclusions that impact beauty, precise cut that brings brilliance to the gemstone, and sparkle or what we call "life" of the gem.
When evaluating color, the most sought after aquamarines are medium blue. Generally, the deeper in saturation of blue, the more valuable the aquamarine. Undertones of green in an aqua are quite common and quite beautiful, but can bring the value of the stone down. If the stone's dominate color is green over blue, it is considered green beryl, not aquamarine.
Further below in the article, we discuss aquamarine's common treatment: heat. This treatment often deepens the blue color and eliminates green undertones, hence increasing the value.
Aquamarine is typically not a gemstone that inherently has many inclusions, so we look for gemstones that are "clean". Aquamarine can form long, line-like inclusions that can appear as faint parallel bands throughout the gemstone, especially as you rock it back and forth in the light. That being said, it is rare for us to sell an aqua with this kind of clarity!
A precise cut is so important for gemstones that can be on the lighter side, like aquamarine. Stones can easily become washed out and lose their color if the cut isn't proper. We have been fortunate to purchase many of our aquamarines from a former stone cutter, who fashioned these gemstones with so much precision and care. Cutting technology has improved so much over the past 30-40 years that we are having many of our older gemstones re-cut to bring out their beauty and enhance their value.
Traditionally, Brazil has been the source of the most aquamarine globally, with thousands of mines across the country. One spectacular specimen, found in 1910 in Minas Gerais Brazil weighed 244 pounds and measured 19 inches long!
Only 3-5% of what is being produced in Brazil is of high enough quality for us to purchase. On our buying trips to the country, we will go through hundreds of parcels of aquamarine before we find stones that meet our standard of quality at the price we want to pay.
A parcel of aquamarines from one of our recent buying trips in Brazil. To shop all items featuring aqua, click here.
Some of the finest aquamarine is currently being mined in Southern India, a place we frequently travel to. These aquas have smokey grey blue undertones and some of the deepest saturation we've ever seen. Their color is absolutely breathtaking! We have been fortunate to purchase a few small parcels of this Southern Indian material to offer to our customers.
Typically when aquamarine is mined, it has a blue/green cast to the color. Heat treating is a routine for these gems, as the treatment brings out the deep, crisp blue undertones and eliminates the less desirable green. Aquamarine is particularly well suited to heat treatments, as the low inclusion rate of the crystal structure means the gem responds well to this standard, stable treatment. Generally, the darker the blue color of aquamarine, the more expensive and highly valued it is.
Aquamarine is a gem of happiness and everlasting youth. Some believes i t aids insight, gives one foresight and helps to induce sleep through the process of "letting go". Aquamarine is considered especially important for those traveling over waters, as it protects, cleanses and soothes the wearer during turbulent or traumatic times.