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Aquamarine is a blue colored variety of the beryl. This same group of minerals is also where the emerald comes from as well as the sapphire and ruby. It is the birthstone for March and is notable for its beautiful sea colors of blues that range from very light to dark. The name of Aquamarine comes from an old Latin phrase that literally translates to seawater.
Although the emerald and aquamarine come from the same gemstone family, they are very different. Emeralds get their color from chromium and vanadium. Aquamarine however, gets its color from iron impurities that are found within the beryl crystal. Aquamarines have excellent clarity and are very transparent. It is a hard gemstone and very durable. The most desirable, and often the most expensive, aquamarine is one that is deeply saturated with blue.
Aquamarine is found widely throughout Brazil as well as in Australia, China, Kenya, India, Nigeria, Madagascar and various other regions around the world, including some in the United States. India is the largest producer of the gemstone.
The highest quality aquamarine stones are clear and transparent. Some stones do have inclusions of hollow rods which is quite common within the beryl family. Sometimes a foreign mineral can intrude the stone and cause a star or cat’s eye effect which is very unique. Stones that have these effects are typically a bit more expensive than those that do not.
Aquamarine is not a terribly expensive stone and can be cut into cabochon or faceted stones. Square and rectangular cuts are very popular in this stone as is the emerald cut. Fancier cuts are often harder to find in large sizes and can cost a bit more than the average cost for the aquamarine. The stone is also very widely used in animal gemstone carvings and ornamental figurines.
Some aquamarine stones are treated with heat to enhance the color although not all of the stones are treated. Heating at even a very low temperature can help to reduce yellow and green tones that can often be evident on the gemstone. Darker shades of blue are normally treated with heat in order to obtain the darker hue. Lower quality stones are also normally treated with higher heat to enhance their color into a more favorable hue of blue. Very high temperatures however, can cause a bit of discoloration.
When buying an aquamarine jewelry piece or a single stone, one should look for clear stones that are free from inclusions. Again, this is not a terribly expensive stone and even the highest qualities of aquamarine are quite affordable. They are available in a number of sizes and cuts as well as in varying carat weights. Aquamarine is used widely in creating rings, necklaces, earrings and other jewelry pieces as well as various figures and ornaments. These stones pair well with diamonds and other lighter colored stones and can be used to create stunning pieces when they are paired with contrasting colored stones such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
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