Hardness: 7.5 - 8
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
History and Lore
Ah to be one with the sea. Freedom, adventure, and mystery were just a few things that awaited a humble sailor eager to begin his first voyage across the deep. Being out at sea for months to years at a time, sailors often became very superstitious. They saw sea serpents in great waves, the goddess Calypso in storms, and mermaids and dolphins and manatees. So of course, mariners would need a talisman to keep them safe on their journeys. And what better means of protection than the use of a precious jewel as clear and as blue as the ocean itself: the aquamarine. Derived from two Latin words: aqua, meaning “water”, and marina, meaning “of the sea” it’s easy to see how the march birthstone became a symbol of protection for all sailors and eventually travelers in general.
Aquamarine while used in different ways has always been associated with the. aquatic. The Romans would carve the image of a frog into the jewel as a means of reconciling with their enemies. In the Medieval Ages sailors believed themselves to be invincible when they carried the stone. In Christian ideology the gem that emanated the sea and air symbolized the Apostle St. Thomas who was known for taking long journeys particularly overseas, going as far as India.
One of the more elaborate uses for the stone was during the Elizabethan era. Doctors and mystics believed that aquamarine possessed mystical properties that, when cut into a crystal ball, could tell a person’s fortune. They said it would work particularly well if the ball hung by a tread over water, allowing the orb to just barely touch the surface. The astronomer, mathematician, and alchemist Dr. John Dee – court adviser to Queen Elizabeth I – often used an aquamarine crystal ball to predict the Queen’s future.
Knowing that aquamarine belongs to the beryl group we can better understand the gems colouring. Pure beryl is actually completely colourless, but is habitually tinted by “impurities” in the soil. Aquamarine gets its colouration from an excess of iron ion deposits in the soil. Basically, the more iron, the bluer the stone. The ideal blue aquamarine is specifically known as maxixe.
Aquamarine comes from a few places around the world such as Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, Mozambique, and Nigeria. However, the biggest and most popular mines are in Brazil. That valuable deep blue maxixe comes from Brazil. In fact, the largest aquamarine ever found was mined out of Brazil. The stone weighed a massive 243 pounds. It was then cut into smaller stones that came to a total of 200,000 carats. Aquamarines are commonly found in large formations, making it easy to cut multiple jewels out of a single crystal. The worlds largest cut aquamarine, on the other hand, is known as the Dom Pedro. Cut into an obelisk shape, the crystal stands a solid 14 inches tall, 4 inches across the base and weighs 4.6 pounds, coming to a total carat weight of 10, 363 carats. That is impressive.
Care and Maintenance
With a hardness level of 7.5 to 8 caring for aquamarine is easier than other stones. So long has you’re mindful of it and make sure it doesn’t get banged up or rubbed against any hard surfaces you will be fine. To clean the stone, you’re better off using lukewarm water, frequent feel gentle liquid soap, and soft toothbrush. This way you have more control over the treatment of your jewelry and you’ll be able to get all the dirt out of those tight spots.
However, because it is so pale in colour you need be more careful about how you store your aquamarine jewelry. You must keep all aquamarine stones in a dark space when you are not using it, because when a colour stone is exposed to light for too long, the colour fades. Think about it. Gemstones are mined out of the earth, a place that is dark and completely devoid of light. It’s an environment that allows pigment to fully saturate without anything getting in its way. Therefore, when exposed to light for a long time those minerals that have been gestating under the earth can fade after a long while. And since aquamarine is already so naturally pale, we want to be particularly mindful with it so we can make the stone last for the ages.