Every gemstone is unique. Many people don’t realize it, because we only seek gems for their respective colors and/or cuts. However, even when gemstones appear very similar in color to the naked eye, they each actually have their own hues, clarity variations, inclusions, etc.
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Aquamarine is no different in that regard. However, many people may confuse this gemstone with blue diamonds, treated sapphires, or other gemstones that have been allowed to keep their blue hues. Read on to learn more specifically about the aquamarine gemstone.
What is Aquamarine?
As we mentioned, aquamarine is not like a sapphire, despite its blue hue. It is in the group of gemstones that includes emerald, morganite, and others. It is usually a soft, light blue, which is its key, easily visible distinction from the sapphire. It also has a deep historical connection to the ocean, with people who often traveled the seas believing that it would protect them from harm or illness as they sailed. Its very name comes from the words in Latin that mean water of the sea. Its ocean tint also makes it the perfect March birthstone, since March is the heart of the zodiac sign, Pisces. The paleness of the blue in the aquamarine birthstone makes it one of the most popular gems on the market.
History of Aquamarine
As mentioned above, Aquamarine has had a deep connection to the sea, and has been admired by many throughout history including the Sumerians, Egyptians, Hebrews, and Greeks . Specifically, the gemstone was even referred to as “water of the sea” by Roman fishermen. The gemstone was even believed to have healing qualities and was used by Roman physicians, and has even been found buried with Egyptian mummies. The beauty of this gemstone has made it a popular choice for years and can even be seen on many celebrities today.
Gemstone Clarity, and How Aquamarine Compares
The clarity of any gemstone is defined as, well, how clear a gemstone is when you look through it. This does not mean that it is not colored (the color is another of the four C qualities by which gemstones are graded). It simply means that, despite the color, the visibility through the gem is total, or almost total, meaning that there are few or no inclusions, or flaws that can be seen with the naked eye.
Aquamarine clarity is virtually total, and its soft, nearly transparent hue makes it very easy to see it. A good piece of aquamarine gemstone is so near perfect that it sparkles almost like a colorless diamond. Raw aquamarine often comes out of the ground clear and near flawless, though it can be cut and treated to make it even more perfect.
As mentioned above, aquamarine is pretty well, flawless. And it is not hard to see it, because the color is so light and translucent. Therefore, it allows you to practically look straight through the gemstone. It is often much easier to get your hands on a perfect piece of aquamarine than a flawless diamond.
How aquamarine inclusions happen?
However, even aquamarine is not 100% infallible. Sometimes, the gemstone is exposed to gasses, liquids, and/or metals during formation, which results in inclusions. Inclusions are unique and interesting features of a gemstone. Many gemstones often do end up with a few inclusions, which jewelry crafters work hard to remove or reduce with cutting and treating the stones. If you see a piece of aquamarine that is cloudy or darker than normal, that means that it has many inclusions, and is usually not highly desirable. Again, though, because of the transparency of aquamarine, such major flaws will easily be noticeable and visible.
Common types of aquamarine inclusions
Specific types of inclusions found in aquamarine gemstones can be biotite, hematite, ilmenite, phlogopite, and pyrite. These inclusions are transparent and metallic. Aquamarine gemstones may also include crystals of apatite, cassiterite, epidote, garnet, quartz, and tourmaline. Lastly, aquamarine gemstones can contain what are called “snow stars.” These types of inclusions are liquid droplets found within the stone in the shape of a star. Overall, it is important to carefully examine any aquamarine stone for the different possible inclusions before deciding to purchase the gemstone.
Popular Cuts of Aquamarine
Every gemstone has specific cuts that suit its unique characteristics. In most cases, there is more than one cut that “flatters” each stone. The cut of a gemstone is usually named after the way it is shaped, though there are some that have names related to other characteristics, or after whoever discovered the cut. Each cut falls into categories: brilliant, step, mixed, etc. They are classified into one of the categories based on the shape of the facets. For example, the two most popular cuts for this precious gem are round and emerald, which are brilliant cut and step cut, respectively.
Brilliant Cut: Round Shape Aquamarine
Round cut stones are perfectly circular in shape, and they are perfectly symmetrical. It is one of the most popular cuts of almost all gemstones, and it is also one of the most expensive given its popularity. The round cut makes for a great aquamarine engagement ring. Bracelets are also popular choices for round cut aquamarine jewelry.
Step Cut: Emerald Shape Aquamarine
Emerald cut stones are named after, you guessed it, emeralds. Emeralds were and are commonly cut in this shape, leading to the name for emerald shape gemstones of all varieties. Rectangular, with slightly rounded corners, unlike the regular rectangle cut, which has pointed corners. They are popular because they are rather big, and they make quite elegant pieces of jewelry. They are beautiful in jewelry like an aquamarine and diamond ring, as well as necklaces.
Mixed Cut Aquamarine:
Some other cuts that are popular for aquamarine jewelry are:
- Oval - Can either be a wide or narrow oval shape. This cut makes for a stunning ring and can even make the finger appear slimmer. Not to mention, this specific cut does not contain any sharp corners, meaning there is less risk of the gem chipping.
- Rose - A rarer cut, with a domed surface that tapers to a point in the center. While not as popular today, the Rose cut is important to gem cutting history and dates back to the 16th century. This specific gem cut, however, has been making a comeback recently given its more "vintage" look.
- Pear - Also referred to as a teardrop cut. Makes excellent necklace pendants. Like the oval cut, the pear shape aquamarine can make the finger appear slimmer when used in a ring setting.
How much is aquamarine worth?
A 1-carat aquamarine would cost approximately $675 per carat and a 2-3 carat aquamarine would be around $1,000 to $1,500 per carat. Depending on the metal and jewelry type, aquamarine can range in terms of cost for finished jewelry.
Where is aquamarine found?
In the Beryl mineral family, aquamarine is created naturally in igneous rock in a formation called pegmatite and can also be found in alluvial deposits. Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil and Zambia are some of the countries where this gem is commonly found.
How to tell is aquamarine is real?
Gem labs and testers can ascertain the quality and the type of gemstone best. Aquamarine is generally in a sea-blue to green range and has crystal clear transparency and minimal inclusions.