Aquamarine brings to life the magic of breathtaking ocean blues. Fittingly so, because the name aquamarine comes from the Latin aqua mare, meaning “water of the sea”. According to legend it is the mermaids’ stone, bringing luck to sailors and harmony in marriage.
The major deposits of aquamarine are found in the same geographical locations as that most iconic beryl family member, the emerald. Main production is from Brazil and Africa but Australia, China, Burma, Pakistan, Madagascar, Russia, the US and Sri Lanka also mine these gems seemingly kissed by the glittering waters of the Maldives; while from Santa Maria de Itabira in Brazil and Mozambique come the rare, deep, evening-blue toned Santa Maria and Santa Maria Africana stones, reminiscent of deep lagoons at sunset.
While pure beryl is colorless, it is the trace of iron in its makeup that creates the sea-meets-sky blue-greens of limpid aquamarine. The prismatic crystals are found in most sizes, including large specimens. Unlike their emerald cousin, aquamarines are usually eye-clean but can contain hollow or liquid filled rod-like inclusions, which, in profusion and with a fine cutter’s skill, can show a chatoyant effect that is breathtakingly beautiful. The marine-colored gems range from perfectly transparent clear crystals to translucent ones that may be of smaller market value but still have strong appeal. Because of their bountiful supply and durability, aquamarines can be fashioned into most cuts; the preferred are emerald and mixed brilliant, which show off the tranquil blue hues, and ice-like sparkle playing over the smooth lustrous surface. They are the lapidary designers’ and artists’ dream, carving out into fantastical, futuristic creations popping with vitality and sparkle.
From a mermaid’s jewel box far beneath the waves? In a palette ranging from the light, angelic blue of a springtime sky through the tranquil sea-greens of a tropical sea to the intense, piercing purity of a summer’s sky as it meets the ocean, this is a gem that makes such whimsy seem less the stuff of legends than of fact. DC