Aquamarine refers to beryl that is pale blue, light blue-green, or even light green. It is usually clear, but iron content gives it its blue/green color. The green of aquamarine is a watery green without any traces of yellow. In the past, the most valued aquamarine stones were green. Today, however, the most valued aquamarine stones are a rich, sky blue, but even the blue stones have a green or bluish green tint to them. Depending on which angle you look at an aquamarine, it may look blue, green, or colorless. This is called a pleachroic effect. A varied display of aquamarines is like seeing the many colors of oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water around the world. Every aquamarine recalls a hue of some body of water you have enjoyed. Almost all aquamarines on the market have been heat treated to enhance the color. In meeting with the consumer preference for aquamarines in deep blue, the stones are heated near 800 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes the blue color to emerge and the yellow/green tones to disappear. The light color tone of the aquamarine flatters all skin colors and harmonizes with all precious metals. Many aquamarine stones are virtually free of inclusions and their luster is vitreous.
The most common cut for an aquamarine is the emerald type, followed by oval or pear shaped cuts. It is a relatively easy stone to cut and is often found in innovative shapes, as cutters experiment with new forms. It rates a 7.5 to 8 on the hardness scale, making it quite a durable stone to wear. Large aquamarine stones, ranging from several carats to more than ten carats are relatively common. Rich blue stones that are several carats in weight are extremely valuable. Occasionally, aquamarines are found in large enough places to yield finished gemstones in the 1000 plus carat range. What is great about the gemstone is that the wide price range makes it available to almost anyone.
Aquamarine is commonly found in cavities, granite pegmatite, alluvial deposits of gravel and sometimes stream gravels. Beryl crystals in some pegmatite grow to very large sizes, even up to 30 feet. Aquamarine crystals of up to 3 feet are actually not uncommon. The best quality stones are from Brazil, where crystals weighing several kilos have been found. Other places aquamarine is found are the Soviet Union, Madagascar (where a dark blue variety is found), the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria.
How to Care for Aquamarine
The best way to clean your aquamarine jewelry is with plain, warm soapy water (using mild liquid soap) and an old tooth brush. Once you have washed the stone, make sure you rinse it off well with plain water. Be careful to use warm water instead of hot water, to reduce the dangers of thermal shock. Enzyme cleaners and detergent should be avoided for they can cause allergic reactions. It is also not advisable to clean aquamarine in an ultrasonic tank. Avoid sudden temperature changes, steaming, and contact with cosmetics, hairspray, perfume or household chemicals.