They are valued for their pure blue color, but it doesn’t always come naturally. It comes in cat’s-eye and star varieties. Its shade makes many cultures think of the sea. Today we are talking about the semi-precious gemstone known as aquamarine.
Photo by Andy Holmes.
Its color can fade in sunlight.
But only under certain circumstances. The color of natural aquamarine is fairly stable and will not fade with exposure to any form of light, including sunlight. However, those whose color was produced with irradiation will fade if exposed to too much sunlight or ultraviolet light. If you have an aquamarine that’s faded in the sun, it was likely artificially enhanced.
Its color can be changed with heat.
Most natural aquamarines have a blue-green color. However, exposure to heat can remove the green tints and result in a more pure, sky blue shade. These stones are treated by placing them in an oxygen-free chamber and cranking the heat up to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It is amazing what cooking your gemstones will achieve.
Blue color can also be achieved with radiation.
As stated above, this particular shade of blue is not as stable as a heated or natural gem’s color. In this process, colorless or light pink beryl is exposed to gamma radiation and transforms to a deep blue color. These aquamarines are known as “maxixe” and are valued for their rich color.
Ancient Romans and Greeks admired the stone.
In Ancient Roman and Greek traditions, the aquamarine was known as the sailor’s stone. It was used as a talisman for protection when traveling over water or to calm troubled seas. The stone was also given as a gift to new brides because it was supposed to enhance love.
It’s the state gem of Colorado.
Yes, aquamarine is said to be Colorado’s state gem, while rhodochrosite is its state mineral. Within the state, aquamarine is found around the 13,000 foot level of Mount Antero. This mountain is the highest peak in the southern Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains and is a popular climbing spot. A lot of climbers include it on their list of 14,000-footers to scale in the area.
It’s found in more than one natural setting.
Aquamarine is found mostly among granite pegmatites. In case you wonder, a pegmatite is a course-grained, crystalline igneous rock. You can also find aquamarines in metamorphic rocks that have been altered by hydrothermal processes. These gemstones are very hard and resistant to erosion, so they are often found in stream sediments after the host rock has been whittled away by natural processes.
It’s most common in Brazil.
Like many other gemstones, a lot of aquamarines are found in Brazil. In this case, the state of Minas Gerais, an area known for its gemstones. One aquamarine found in the region was so large it weighed over 240 pounds. You can also find aquamarines in Pakistan and various locations in Africa, as well as at limited spots in the United States.
It’s used in modern witchcraft.
Modern witches have many uses for this sky blue gemstone. Aquamarine is claimed to clear the mind and enhance psychic powers. It’s used in cleansing and purifying rituals, as well as those to calm and sooth an anxious heart, and to bring courage. The gemstone is also said to cure toothaches and ailments of the stomach, among other things. Like the ancient Romans and Greeks before them, modern pagans use this gemstone for protection when traveling over water or working with the sea.
It's blue for the same reason that amethyst is purple.
That’s right, the blue color found in aquamarine is caused by iron impurities coloring the stone, the same thing that colors amethyst. Unlike amethyst, however, aquamarine is a variety of beryl. That’s right, you’re looking at the same stone as an emerald, just with different impurities.
It can contain various interesting inclusions.
Pure aquamarines are valued for their blue color, but there are some interesting varieties out there. There is a version of aquamarine called a snow-star, which includes irregularly shaped liquid drops in a star formation. Inclusions that can be found in aquamarines include, but are not limited to, apatite, epidote, garnet, quartz, and tourmaline.
Before I pulled this random topic, I wasn’t very familiar with aquamarines. I didn’t know, for example, that aquamarine was a type of beryl. As I discussed above, this is the same stone as the emerald, only blue. Not only is beryl the source of precious and semi-precious gemstones, it is also the ore source of the chemical element beryllium. This metal is used in the aerospace and defense industry for high-speed aircraft, missiles, spacecraft, satellites, and many other things. You learn something new every day!
International Gem Society- www.gemsociety.org
Gatsby Jewellery- www.gatsbyjewellery.co.uk
Colorado Geological Survey- www.coloradogeologicalsociety.org
American Gem Society- www.americangemsociety.org
International Colored Gemstone Association- www.gemstone.org
Gemological Institute of America- www.gia.edu
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic, Scott Cunningham, 2003