Aquamarine: Charm of the Sea

by

Amy L. Uttinger

http://www.emporia.edu/earthsci/amber/go340/students/uttinger

This image was taken from:
http://www.gemsuite.com/gemstones/aquamarine.html

This webpage project was created for a gemstones and gemology course in the spring 2004 semester at Emporia State University. The assignment was to learn webpage creation, as well as present a summary of our knowledge regarding gemstones.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • History & Lore
  • Facts
  • Jewelry Market
  • Origins
  • Care & Caution
  • Color Enhancements
  • Conclusion
  • Cut
  • References

  • Introduction

    This image was taken from:
    http://www.gemsuite.com/gemstones/aquamarine.html

    The aquamarine is a beautiful gemstone that is best known as the birthstone for the month of March. It is also designated as the anniversary gemstone for the 16th and 19th year of marriage and the offical state gemstone of Colorado (Jewelry Mall). The name for aquamarine derives from the latin words for sea and water and applies to the stone's cool, "sea water" blue color. This stone is a member of the beryl family and throughout history is has been thought to possess many positive powers of influence and healing.

    Facts

    ColorLight blue to dark blue, blue-green
    Color of streakWhite
    Mohs' hardness7.5-8
    Density2.68-2.74
    CleavageIndistinct
    FractureConchoidal, uneven, brittle
    Crystal systemHexagonal
    Chemical compositionAl2Be3Si6O18
    Refractive index1.564-1.596

    Table information taken from Schumann (1997, p. 94).

    Return to the Table of Contents.

    Origins

    Deposits of aquamarine are most abundant in Brazil, but can also be found in Russia, Austrailia, Burma, China, India, parts of Africa and United States (Schumann, 1997, pg. 94). In 1910 a 243 lb (110.5kg), gemstone quality aquamarine was found in Marambaya, Minas Gerais Brazil. It was 18 in (48.5 cm) long and 15.5 in (42 cm) in diameter and is the largest specimen found to this date, April 24, 2004 (Schumann, 1997, pg. 94). This particular aquamarine was then cut into many stones with a collective weight of over 100,000 ct. "A green 13-pound uncut piece of the outer portion of the crystal resides in the American Museum of Natural History" (Alrashid Cyber Mall).

    Color Enhancement

    Most generally, the deeper blue color of the aquamarine is more desirable, therefore the stone is often heated to enhance coloration (
    GemSuite.com). This type of gem enhancement "is one of the oldest and most common enhancement processes" (Holly D'Lane). Stones of lower color quality are heated to a temperature of 725-825 degrees F (400-450 degrees C) (Schumann, 1997, pg. 94). This procedure removes the yellow found in aquamarine due to iron content and permanently enhances its blue color. High levels of heat can lead to discoloration of the gemstone so when using this method, temperature control is very important.

    Heat treatment isn't the only method of color enhancement; gamma irradiation is sometimes used. This process uses gamma rays to rearrange the location of electrons in a gemstone, thereby altering the way in which it absorbs light. Ultimately a color change results, but that change depends on how near the relocated electrons are to other charged atoms. The irradiation process is newer than heat treating and its effects are not long term.

    Cut

    The aquamarine can be cut in a variety of shapes. Because the stone is generally a pale color it should have good clarity therefore, when cut for jewelry, the aquamarine is often seen in the emerald or oval cut. The stone is not limited to emerald and oval cuts; it is also cut in the style of marquise, antique, fan and briolette (Schumann, 1997, pg. 94).

    Oval cut aquamarine image taken from: http://www.gemhut.com/aqua.htm Other cut aquamarine images taken from: http://www.thebrazilianconnection.com/aquamarinewebpage.html

    Return to the Table of Contents.


    Image shown to the left was taken from:
    http://www.simmonsjewelry.com/sys-tmpl/scrapbook/
    view.nhtml?profile=scrapbook&UID=10009

    History & Lore

    Aquamarine gemlore can be found online. According to Thegemdealer.com, the first documented use of Aquamarine as an amulet was by the Greeks between 480-300 BC. Believed to be the spirit of the sea by ancient Greeks, this stone was worn to protect sailors from sea adversities as well as prevent sea sickness. "Cups and goblets were sometimes carved from aquamarine because of the belief that it aids digestion and reduces body fluids" (
    Thegemdealer.com).

    In ancient Egypt, the aquamarine was worn in death as a tribute gemstone to the Gods for safe passage into the Nether world. Also, the aquamarine is said to have been one of the 12 holy gemstones on the breast plate worn by King Solomon.

    Because of its color link to the sea, legends say the aquamarine is a treasure of mermaids. As a charm it is thought to become strongest when immersed in water (Alrashid Cyber Mall. It is said to have positive influences on marital relationships which could account for its place in the anniversary gemstone list. It is also supposed to help attract new friends (Jewelry Mall). Additionally, the stone is stated to have a soothing effect on the wearer and has been used to help with meditation. One theory states that when the gemstone is placed on the forehead of someone who's meditating the stone will take that person's consciousness back to a time when their spirit lived as a sea creature (Alrashid Cyber Mall).

    The aquamarine is believed to have the ability to ward off evil spirits and it is thought to enhance psychic ability (New Age Time4me Club). The sea colored gemstone is also worn as a magic charm to promote courage and alertness of the mind. Lastly, the stone has an interesting history of usage for medicinal purposes. It is thought to help cure headaches, toothaches, stop hiccups, and cure eye troubles (Alrashid Cyber Mall). In addition, the aquamarine has been used for proper functioning of the kidneys, liver, stomach and spleen (Thegemdealer.com).

    Return to the Table of Contents.

    Jewelry Market

    The abundance of natural aquamarine makes the gemstone affordable in today's jewelry market. It is actually more expensive to produce a synthetic. Because of its birthstone linkage to the month of March, the aquamarine is found in a variety of jewelry. From rings to necklaces, to bracelets and earrings, this popular gemstone is a gift choice for many occasions.

    Images taken from:
    http://www.gemsoftheworld.net/
    aquamarine/aquamarinevalue.shtml

    Return to the Table of Contents.

    Care & Caution

    Cleaning

    Care should be taken when cleaning the aquamarine stone because even though it is a hard stone it can be chipped or scratched. The best method for cleaning aquamarine jewelry is to use a soft bristled brush, like a toothbrush, and warm, soapy water. "Do not clean in a home ulstrasonic machine" (Jewelry Mall). Because the gemstone is sensitive to heat, it is important not to leave any jewelry of its kind in the sun. Too much sun exposure can lead to discoloration.

    Caution

    When purchasing aquamarine jewelry it is important to know that there are a few misleading terms. If a jeweler is selling a "Brazilian Aquamarine", he or she is really selling a blue topaz. A stone refered to as "Siam Aquamarine" is realy a heat-treated blue zircon and "Mass Aqua" is actually blue glass (Jewerly Mall). Lastly, synthetic aquamarine, although not economical, can be found in the form of aquamarine-colored synthetic spinel (Schumann, 1997, p. 94).

    Conclusion

    One of the most popular gemstones for jewelry, the aquamarine is liked not only for its beauty and availablity, but also for its mystery and charm. The aquamarine is not rare, however it is unique. Many people believe it possess healing powers and the power to influence behavior while others may just enjoy the soothing color and association with birthdays in March. This gemstone is susceptible to damage so, great care should be taken with cleaning and caring for any aquamarine jewelry. It is also worth noting that the stone has imitators so it is important for buyers to educate themselves on properties of the aquamarine and to ask many questions when purchasing.

    It is often thought that the aquamarine is a product of the sea. In reality, aquamarine is a mineral and is a product of Earth.

    Return to the Table of Contents.

    Reference and Related Links

    Alrashid Cyber Mall (nd). WWW URL: http://www.alrashedmall.com/jic/aquamarines-history.htm

    Thegemdealer.com (nd). WWW URL: http://www.thegemdealer.netfirms.com/aquamarine.htm

    Diamond Palace Jewelry On Line; Magical uses for Aquamarine (2000). WWW URL: http://dpalace.com/Page.cfm?Id=749$cfid=1584842&cftoken=76551741

    New Age Time4me Club; The Healing Power of Crystals, Aquamarine(1998-2002). WWW URL: http://www.time4me.com/theme/newage/crystals/aquamarine.htm

    GemSuite.com; Gemstone Varieties/Natural Aquamarine(2000-2002) WWW URL: http://www.gemsuite.com/gemstones/aquamarine.html

    GemSuite.com; Image of uncut beryl (2000-2002) WWW URL: http://www.gemsuite.com/gemstones/aquamarine.html Retrieved on 04/26/04.

    Gemsuite.com; Image of oval cut aquamarine (2000-2002) WWW URL: http://www.gemsuite.com/gemstones/aquamarine.html Retrieved on 04/26/04.

    Diamond Palace Jewelry On Line; Aquamarine History & Lore(2000). WWW URL: http://dpalace.com/Page.cfmId=747&cfid=1584842&cftoken=76551741"

    Jewelry Central; Aquamarine (1999-2003). WWW URL: http://www.jewelrycentral.com/Target_Aquamarine.html

    Jewelry Mall; Wedding Anniversary Gifts with Jewelry and Gemstones (1995-1999). WWW URL: http://www.jewelrymall.com/special/anniversary.html

    Holly D'Lane Fine Jewelry & Design; Jewelry Information (nd). WWW URL: http://www.hollydlane.com/jinfo/enhance.html

    Gem Hut; Image of Oval cut, dark blue, aquamarine (1995-2004) http://www.gemhut.com/aqua.htm Retrieved on 04/26/04

    The Brazilian Connection; Image of blue-green, emerald-cut aquamarine (nd) http://www.thebraziianconnection.com/3.95aqua.JPG Retrieved on 04/26/04

    The Brazilian Connection; Image of fan-cut aquamarine (nd)http://www.thebrazilianconnection.com/602.JPG Retrieved on 04/26/04

    The Brazilian Connection; Image of marquis-cut aquamarine (nd)http://www.thebrazilianconnection.com/611.JPG Retrieved on 04/26/04

    The Brazilian Connection; Image of antique-cut aquamarine (nd)http://www.thebrazilianconnection.com/606.jpg Retrieved on 04/26/04

    The Brazilian Connection; Image of dark blue, emerald-cut aquamarine (nd)http://www.thebrazilianconnection.com/6.50aqua.JPG Retrieved on 04/26/04)

    GemsOfTheWorld.net; Image of emerald-cut aquamarine earrings (2002)http://www.gemsoftheworld.net/aquamarine/aquamarine_earrings_435.shtml Retrieved on 04/26/04>

    GemsOfTheWorld.net; Image of diamond and aquamarine ring (2002)http://www.gemsoftheworld.net/aquamarine/aquamarine_ring_175.shtml Retrieved on 04/26/04

    Schumann, W. (1997). Gemstones of the World. NY: Sterling Publishing 94p.


    Return to gemology student webpages.

    This page went online April 27, 2004. Comments can be emailed to the author.