The birthstone for March is one of my favorites (I know that I always say that but this time it is REALLY true). The name aquamarine was derived from an old Latin expression which meant ‘seawater’. I adore the multiple shades of blue-green that it comes in. It is a soft and sultry gemstone that looks good on almost everyone. Aquamarine is the blue-green variety of beryl, emerald is the green variety.
Here is some interesting historical lore about the gemstone. The Romans believed that if a frog figure was carved on an aquamarine it would help to reconcile enemies and make them friends. Since it is the seawater stone, both Roman and Greek sailors believed aquamarine would ensure a safe and prosperous journey across stormy seas. During the Middle Ages, the properties of the gemstone were believed to have the ability to reawaken the love of married couples. Last but not least, an aquamarine crystal ball was believed to have mystical powers and was used by Dr. John Dee to caste the horoscope of Queen Elizabeth I in order to determine the best date for her coronation. Whew!
The leading producer of aquamarine right now is Brazil. India is a close second. There are also deposits in Australia, Myanmar, China, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the US there are deposits in Alabama, North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts and Colorado.
Although aquamarine and emerald belong to the same family, they are surprisingly different. Both are beryllium aluminum silicates. Emerald is colored by trace amounts of chromium, (and vanadium) while aquamarine color is the result of iron impurities within colorless beryl crystal. Emeralds tend to be full of inclusions, while aquamarines have excellent transparency and clarity. This is where you get to see my inner science geek, she is alive and well, I adore the microscope. On a side note, I used to work in the wholesale emerald business, another story altogether. Talk about a tough business…..the characters you would meet…..guys from the mining areas would come in with crystals to sell that were, how to put this….probably misappropriated from the mining area? Remember the movie Blood Diamond? Transfer that to South America. Remember TIA, This is Africa? Well, this was TIB or TIC, This is Brazil or Columbia. A whole different set of rules or no rules, take your pick.
Where was I? Ah yes, we were talking about a recipe for risotto…no, we were not!! Just making sure you were paying attention.
Tiffany & Co. five strand aquamarine and diamond necklace, photo courtesy of Tiffany & Co.
Aquamarine and ruby studded belt necklace by Paul Flato, 1935.
This stunning 1935 studded belt necklace was besigned by the late Paul Flato, the celebrity jeweler to Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich and Vivien Leigh. The necklace features a buckle designed by Fulco Duke of Verdure for Flato. The necklace was originally purchased by Cole Porter for his wife, Linda, a Louisville, Kentucky socialite.
Aquamarine, tanzanite and diamond bead necklace, photo courtesy of Christie’s.
Cartier orchid aquamarine, amethyst and diamond brooch, photo courtesy of Cartier.
Ambrosi aquamarine and diamond earrings, photo courtesy of 1st dibs.
Rebecca Koven aquamarine wreath necklace, photo courtesy of 1st dibs.
Betteridge hand carved 100 carat aquamarine pendant inspired by Egyptian rolling seals, photo by Betteridge. This necklace is not completed.
Cartier aquamarine, emerald, diamond, tourmaline and enamel brooch, photo courtesy of Cartier.
Carved aquas are divine, to die for, to wait for, to search for!!! How about you? Do you like aquamarines? Do you own any? Do you want one? What are you craving?