Gemstone Focus: Aquamarine

March is the month of Aquamarine. But did you know that Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family, the same as Emerald? The gemstone was named for the sea whose colour it shares. Rarely do they come in darker hues.

Aquamarines with their pale blue colour have had a connection to the sea for millennia. Sailors believed that it would calm seas and protect them while at sea. And it is also believed to be protective and calming stone all around.

The aquamarine is not only the birthstone of March but also the wedding anniversary stone for the 19th Anniversary and the zodiac birthstone of Pisces.

Facts, care and value

Aquamarine is mined in several place arounds the world, however Brazil and Pakistan produce most of the aquamarines on the market today. This gemstone is a member of the beryl family of gemstones which includes emeralds, but whereas emeralds gain their green colour from chromium and vanadium, Aquamarine’s pale blue colour comes from trace amounts of iron.

Beryls are fairly scratch resistant and rest at 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This said they may often have inclusions (small cracks and fissures inside the stone) which can make the gemstones susceptible to chipping or breaking if exposed to hard knocks. These gemstones can benefit from protective settings if they are heavily included.

In general, care is straightforward as with most gemstones, warm soapy water is the best, using a soft bristle brush like a toothbrush to get into the setting corners. Ultrasonic cleaners can damage the stone especially if they have inclusions.

It is also worth noting that most aquamarines are relatively pale blue never becoming darker than a swiss blue topaz. If they are then is is most likely due to the cutting style or it has been enhanced. But colour enhancements such as maxixe (pronounced mah-she-she) are not stable and may fade over time.

In terms of value, the darker colours and less included stones usually demand a higher price. Prices can range from $100 – $1000 per carat depending on size, colour and clarity. Larger, darker and clearer will command the highest prices.

So there you have few bits about March’s first birthstone. I’ll be back with a bit about its second birthstone, the bloodstone later.

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