Aquamarine: Gem of the Sea
Aquamarine derives it name from the Latin term for seawater
- and one look at this elegant gem's blue hues easily
According to legend, aquamarine was the treasure of
mermaids and had the power to keep sailors safe at sea.
It was also thought to possess a number of other mystical
properties, including the ability to help couples smooth
out their differences; protect against the wiles of
the devil; cure headaches, insomnia and other ailments;
quicken the intellect; and attract new friends. It is
the symbol for youth, hope, health and fidelity.
It is also the birthstone for March and the recommended
gem for couples celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary.
A variety of the mineral beryl, like the emerald, aquamarine
is found in many exotic places around the world, including
Afghanistan, Angola, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Russia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
But most of the gemstones available in the market today
come from Brazil.
Aquamarine is found in a range of blue shades, from
pale pastel to greenish-blue to deep blue. Deeper colors
are unusual in smaller sizes; generally, it takes a
larger stone to hold a darker shade. The most prized
aquamarines are those displaying a deeper, pure blue,
with no green tints. These are rarer and therefore more
valuable. But if you prefer those with a greenish hue,
you should be able to get them for a bargain price.
Like with any gem that is pale, aquamarines should
be "eye clean" (no inclusions visible to the
naked eye), since internal flaws are more noticeable
in a pastel stone. This shouldn't be much of a problem
- unlike its emerald sister, aquamarine is known for
being relatively free of inclusions. This is why aquamarines
are frequently cut with large step facets to show off
their flawless surfaces. The most popular cuts for aquamarine
are oval and emerald.
Settings for aquamarine can also safely expose more
of the gemstone than is possible with emerald. Aquamarine's
tendency toward having few inclusions makes it less
susceptible to nicks or cracks than many other gems.
With an "8" ranking on the Mohs hardness scale,
the stone is very durable and can stand up to everyday
wear. Its clear, pale brilliance makes it an appropriate
stone for all types of jewelry - and it combines well
with all jewelry metals and is flattering to most skin
Aquamarine is commonly heat-treated to permanently
remove green overtones. Unlike its sister stone the
emerald, aquamarine generally isn't plagued by surface
fractures - which means the stone isn't usually treated
with fillers, resins or oils. Even so, avoid mechanical
cleaners. To clean aquamarine, use warm soapy water.
The largest known aquamarine is a 243-pound stone found
in Brazil in 1920. It was cut into many smaller stones
and a 13-pound uncut piece resides in the American Museum
of Natural History. Another noted aquamarine is an 879.5-carat
flawless, step-cut, sea green stone on display in the
British Museum of Natural History.
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