The Colour of the Ocean
What is Aquamarine?
Aquamarine, is the blue variety of the beryl family, which has a composition of beryllium aluminium silicate. Aquamarine comes in a variety of hues: from pale green, greenish blue, light to deep blue and is coloured by Iron (Fe). Depending on the saturation and intensity of colour, the gemstone ranges from transparent to translucent, and reflects a vitreous lustre.
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The gemstone crystallises with a prismatic crystal habit, which is classified under the hexagonal crystal system. It forms a hexagonal shaped prism and therefore exhibits a hexagonal cross-section. The crystal is terminated with a hexagonal bipyramid and pinacoid faces. The surface of the crystal, displays rectangular etch pits on the prism face and hexagonal etch pits on the pinacoid face. The long prismatic crystals are heavily striated, displaying vertical lines, parallel to the length of the crystal. Alternatively, aquamarine can be found as broken fragments or water worn pebbles in alluvial deposits.
Localities of Aquamarine
Aquamarine can be sourced and mined from multiple localities such as: Brazil, Kenya, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nigeria, Russia (Ural Mountains), Sri Lanka, USA, Zambia & Zimbabwe. Perhaps, the most renowned location for aquamarines, is the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Menas Gerais, Brazil. The mine produces aquamarines with a rare and highly desirable deep blue colour, commonly sold under and referred to as ‘Santa Maria’ aquamarines.
Under The Loupe: Inclusions
Aquamarine rarely exhibits inclusions and possesses a high clarity, although if present occur as: mica flakes and two-phase (in this case a cavity made up of liquid and gas). These two-phase inclusions, are tubular in shape or have a spiky outline, usually seen in a group of more than one, parallel to length of the crystal and results in the similar appearance to that of rain.
Majority of the aquamarine you will come across, has been heat treated. Heating is a traditional and widely accepted treatment, used on a multitude of gemstones to improve or change a gemstones colour. Yellowish, greenish or bluish green beryl is heated to produce a stable blue colour.
Blue and bluish green beryl can be irradiated to a yellow colour, otherwise known as Heliodor, this is a non-permeant treatment and the colour will fade, if exposed to strong light over time.
Cut & Simulants
Aquamarine can be fashioned as a faceted gemstone, cabochons or beads. The gemstone is favoured, to be fashioned into an emerald cut, which consists of a rectangular shaped outline with trimmed corners and possesses a large table in the centre, flaunting the gemstones magnificent blue hue and exceptional high clarity.
Aquamarine can commonly be mistaken for blue topaz, blue zircon, blue artificial glass and synthetic blue spinel. These can all be identified through the use of gemological testing and observations.
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The Lore of Aquamarine
Aquamarine is the material used to celebrate the 19th wedding anniversary, as well as being the birthstone of March, it is also the zodiac birthstone of Pisces. Aquamarine can be broken down into latin words ‘aqua mare’, which simply translates to ‘sea water’. The gemstones notable blue hue, is frequently compared to the sea, from its name to the assortment of references in ancient literature. In greek mythology, the gemstone is known to be created by Poseidon from seawater, or washed ashore from the treasure chests of sirens. The romans believed the gemstone to bestow protection and good luck, to those travelling at sea and quickly became referred to as the ‘Sailor’s gem’. Today, aquamarine is thought to symbolise serenity and tranquility.
Aquamarine, Beryl: 💎 Hardness: 7.5 | 💪 Toughness: Good | ⚖️ Stability: Good
💛 Mild Caution, ⚠️ Avoid: 🔨 Knocks, ☀️🔥 Heat, 🔊 Ultrasonic, 🌪 Steam Cleaners.
🔬 Gemmological Observation: Clean with mild soapy water and dry with a soft cloth.
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