Aquamarine is a variety of beryl, which is the same gemstone family as emerald and morganite. Though aquamarine and emerald belong to the same family, they are surprisingly different. They are both composed of beryllium aluminum silicate. However, emerald is colored by trace amounts of chromium and/or vanadium, whereas aquamarine is colored by iron. Also, emerald and beryl have essentially the same specific gravity and refractive index, but emerald tends to be quite hazy and included, while aquamarine typically has excellent transparency and clarity.
Though the beryls are quite hard gems, rating 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, emerald has always been regarded as a somewhat delicate due to its many inclusions. Emerald gemstones are usually oiled to fill fractures and improve their color. Aquamarine, on the other hand, requires no special treatment and is suitable for all kinds of jewelry, including rings. Most aquamarine gems have been heat treated at low temperatures to reduce the level of green or yellow.
The intensity of color and the clarity of the stone are the most important criteria when evaluating aquamarine. Deep blue aquamarine gems are rare and command the highest prices in the world's gemstone markets, though what is considered 'deep blue' for aquamarine is still only pastel blue. Unlike other gems, aquamarine is not diminished by a lesser intensity of color - many people actually prefer the more crystal clear lighter gemstones to the richer, deeper colors. You will find aquamarine in both faceted and cabochon cuts.
Aquamarine gets its name from the Latin term for seawater, and has a long tradition as the sailor's lucky stone. The Greeks and the Romans believed aquamarine to be the sailor's gem, since it was thought to help to ensure a safe passage across stormy seas. Legend has it that aquamarines were the prized possessions of mermaids and thus would protect sailors from danger, including sea sickness.
An alternate birthstone for March is bloodstone, a dark-green opaque quartz flecked with red spots. The name bloodstone is derived from the legendary belief that the red coloration resulted from the blood of Christ spilling onto green jasper during the crucifixion. For this reason the stone has been called "the martyr's stone". Bloodstone is mined in India, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia and the United States. Bloodstone is ideal for carving into cameos and beads, and symbolizes courage.
- First Published: January-27-2009
- Last Updated: September-02-2014
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