Aquamarine is a blue or cyan variety of beryl. Aquamarine ranges in color from a faint light blue to blue and bluish-green. Aquamarine obtains its blue color from iron impurities within colorless beryl. The best gems combine high clarity with limpid transparency and blue to slightly greenish blue hues. Like many beryls, aquamarine forms large crystals suitable for sizable fashioned gems and carvings. The most prized color is a deep-blue aqua color which is called maxixe. Maxixe is commonly found in the country of Madagascar.
It is very hard, at 7.5 to 8 on the Moh’s scale, which makes it more than hard enough to take the daily wear of a ring. It works particularly well as a center stone in cocktail rings because it can be found in such large sizes
Aquamarine’s name comes from the Latin “aqua marinus” meaning “water of the sea”. It 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.
Aquamarine is a valued gem of ancient lineage. In the 19th century, sea green varieties of the stone were the most popular, but today, the bluer the color, the more valuable the stone. In 1910, the largest ever aquamarine was found in Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, weighing 243 pounds which were cut into smaller stones, yielding over 200,000 carats.
The most valuable aquamarines come from Brazil, but it is also mined in Kenya and Nigeria, Myanmar, Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Russia.
Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and the gem of the 19th wedding anniversary.