The origin of the name aquamarine comes from Latin “aqua marina” which means “sea water” and it references the similarities of the gemstones colour to that of the ocean.
It is the birthstone for March and is given on 19th wedding anniversaries.
A member of the beryl family, it can range in colour from pale green, bright green and turquoise to pale blue, dark blue and navy.
The preferred colour of aquamarine is sky blue so some greenish coloured ones are often heat treated to change their colour to a lighter blue. Heat treatment is almost impossible to detect and results in a permanent colour change.
In the past sailors wore aquamarine amulets as they believed that the gemstone would keep them safe and prevent seasickness.
It is not as uncommon as precious stones go and can be found in various countries but Brazil is the source of the finest aquamarines in the world.
The largest piece was found in Brazil in 1910 in the village of Minas Gerais and weighed 243 pounds which was then cut into more than 100,000 carats of finished gemstones.
The largest cut aquamarine was found by miners in the Pedra Azul mine in Brazil in the late 80’s. A sculptor called Bernd Munsteiner bought it and then studied the crystal for 4 months and then carved it into a huge obelisk. Named the “Dom Pedro”, it is now exhibited at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Aquamarine is very durable and on the Mohs scale of hardness it is 7.5. They are graded using the same system as for diamonds- colour, cut, clarity and carat weight.
Even now this gemstone is believed to be a stone of courage and its calming energies are said to reduce the feelings of turmoil and self-doubt in yourself.