Aquamarine: Crystallized Seawater


People born in March can enjoy the many benefits of Aquamarine as a birthstone. Translated from Latin, aquamarine means “water from the sea,” aqua meaning “water” and marina meaning “the sea.”

Aquamarine is a variety of the gem species beryl, which is also related to emerald. While emerald acquires its lustrous green from chromium and vanadium, aquamarine obtains its reputable blue hue from traces of iron in its crystal structure. It is standard practice in the gem and jewelry industry to have aquamarine heat treated. This removes any greenish color and brings out a cleaner shade of blue.

For thousands of years, aquamarine has – and still is – enjoying a reputation of being a soothing and protective stone. The most popular folklore surrounds sailors and their belief that aquamarine talismans, usually carved with the sea god Neptune’s image, will provide safe voyages at sea.

Aquamarine is also credited for providing inner tranquility and helps the wearer become calm and level-headed. Traditionally, aquamarine is given as a gift for the nineteenth wedding anniversary and it is said to enhance happiness in a marriage. 

Not only is this stone for people born from February nineteenth to March twentieth, this gemstone can be a gift for everyone. Aquamarine's greenish blue hue compliments every skin tone and it is excellent with all kinds of precious metals. It can look regal in yellow gold or cool and modern in either sterling silver or white gold. There's also a subtle romance when aquamarine is paired with rose gold. For lovely examples, go to our website and check out our modern 14K White Gold Aquamarine & Diamond Earrings, our warm 14kt Gold Aquamarine Stackable Ring, and our new and romantic 14K Aquamarine & Diamond Earrings in Rose Gold.

Aquamarine crystals are found in a rock called pegmatite, which forms from cooling, once-molten granite. The granite contains rare and necessary chemicals to produce aquamarine. As the last of the molten granite cools in its surrounding rock, the rare chemicals will separate themselves from the granite. The chemicals will attach themselves to the edge of the surrounding rock and form aquamarine crystals in the fractures, therefore becoming deposits for miners.

The most important and productive aquamarine mine is located in Brazil in Minas Gerais. Since 1811, the mines in the northeast region of Minas Gerais have been in producing beautiful quantities of aquamarine. It began when a miner found a large aquamarine crystal that weighed up to fifteen pounds. This was the first of many large crystals to be recorded in the history of the mine. The largest crystal to date was found in 1910 and it weighed over 240 pounds! The crystal itself was so transparent that people were able to read text through the crystal. The crystal (picture below) is an excellent example of what comes from Minas Gerais. This crystal calls the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History home.

Not only is aquamarine found in pegmatites, the crystals can also found in river beds. Many crystals, historically, have been found in river beds or have been dug out of the ground by independent miners called garimpeiros. Now mechanized strip mining is the chosen recovery method for aquamarine crystals.

Pakistan is also another source for aquamarine. There are many mines at high elevations and miners often have to cut into the sides of cliffs. The highest mines are up to fifteen thousand feet! The mines produce light greenish blue to blue crystals that can measure up to twelve inches by five inches. The crystal in the picture below (from the Smithsonian website) is a lovely example from Pakistan and now it resides in the Smithsonian.

This aquamarine crystal is a fine example from Pakistan. The picture is also from the Smithsonian website.

China is relatively new in aquamarine production. The country has recently become a leading producer in small, commercial-quality crystals. The stones, after faceting, are widely used in mass market jewelry. They become readily available on home shopping networks and other high-volume outlets. Unfortunately, the mining techniques are not as refined as other mines in the world. As a result, the gem-quality yield – which is pale in color and has little to no inclusions - is between ten percent and fifteen percent.

Recently, Vietnam has discovered aquamarine sources with well-formed crystals that possess an attractive shade of greenish blue.

Lesser known sources of aquamarine are Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Australia, and the United States. At the Smithsonian, there is a piece of aquamarine (pictured below) that was mined in New Hampshire, and it weighs 1,430 pounds.

You read that correctly, 1,430 pounds! It is one of most impressive pieces of aquamarine on display at the Smithsonian.

We hope you enjoyed this article about the glories of aquamarine. Stop by our site anytime to learn more about all the gemstones we offer.

Not only can you speak with the owner of Moijey Fine Jewelry & Diamonds, you can also speak with the writer herself, who is a Graduate Gemologist from GIA! Here she is, pictured with the 1,430-pound aquamarine.