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Aquamarine

BIRTHSTONE:

Aquamarine is the birthstone for the month of March and the gem for the 19th wedding anniversary.

AQUAMARINE DESCRIPTION:

Aquamarine Crystal
An aquamarine crystal in its natural state shows why these specimens are prized for their beauty. - Courtesy Daniel Trinchillo, Fine Minerals International
Aquamarine is the green-blue to blue variety of the mineral beryl. (Emerald is the green to bluish green variety of the same mineral.) Its color is usually a light pastel greenish blue.

20.83-Carat Aquamarine
This 20.83-carat stone from Africa represents the large size and attractive color that make aquamarine a much-prized gem. - De'ev Dvir/ICA, courtesy Gemstar Ltd., Israel
Heat treatment usually gives it a more bluish appearance.

Aquamarine crystals are known to be large in size and relatively clean and well-formed, making them particularly valuable to collectors of mineral specimens.

AQUAMARINE QUALITY FACTORS:

Aquamarine QF 94675
This 3.74-ct. princess-cut aquamarine’s prized medium-blue color is highlighted by the 22 diamonds that surround it. The ring is an original, copyrighted design by Zoltan David. - Robert Weldon, courtesy of Nancy's Collection
In the commercial market, aquamarine competes with treated blue topaz for attention, but fine aquamarine sells for far more than equivalent-quality treated blue topaz.

Color
Aquamarine’s color range is very narrow: It can be blue, very slightly greenish blue, greenish blue, very strongly greenish blue, or green-blue. The gem’s most valuable color is a dark blue to slightly greenish blue with moderately strong intensity. In general, the purer and more intense the blue color, the more valuable the stone. Most aquamarine is a light greenish blue.

32.10-Carat Heart-Shaped Brazilian Aquamarine
This superb 32.10-carat heart-shaped Brazilian aquamarine shows the gem's finest color, a moderately strong, medium-dark, very slightly greenish blue. - Courtesy M.Chung Gemstones and Fine Jewelry Co.
Although some buyers prefer the more greenish natural color, most of the aquamarine in the market was heat-treated to give it more of a pure blue.

Fashioned aquamarines often have to be fairly large—generally over 5 carats—to show intense, dark color. Although small gems are rarely saturated enough to be attractive, stones from some mines in Africa—Nigeria, Madagascar, and Mozambique, for example—are known for intense color in sizes under 5 carats. For this reason, smaller, top-color stones might sell for more per carat than larger stones of the same color.

Clarity
Most faceted aquamarines are eye-clean. Some crystals might contain liquid inclusions, but clarity characteristics are few or absent in most finished gems. Stones with eye-visible inclusions are usually fashioned into cabochons, beads, or carvings.

Aquamarine Carving
Carvings are popular for translucent to opaque aquamarine. - Courtesy Neoart Peru
Faceted Aquamarine
Faceted aquamarine usually has no eye-visible inclusions. - Courtesy Dudley Blauwet
In some beryl crystals, there are enough parallel inclusions—usually long hollow or liquid-filled tubes—to allow cutters to fashion the rough to show a cat’s-eye.

Greenish Aquamarine Cabochon
This very greenish aquamarine cabochon has enough parallel inclusions to display a cat’s-eye.
Cut
Aquamarines can be cut into almost any shape, but cutters often fashion them as emerald cuts or as round or oval brilliants. The rough is fairly plentiful, so well-cut stones are fairly common. The gemstone’s hardness and transparency make it popular with designers, artists, and carvers. Gem sculptors use aquamarine for fantasy cuts and ornamental objects.

Aquamarine
Aquamarine can be cut in a variety of standard shapes.
Emerald Cut Aquamarine
Emerald cuts are among the common aquamarine cutting styles. - Courtesy ICA
The gem is pleochroic, which means it shows different colors in different crystal directions—in the case of aquamarine, they’re near-colorless and strong blue. Fortunately, the blue pleochroic color corresponds with the cutting orientation that retains the most weight, with the table facet aligned parallel to the length of the crystal.

10.37-Carat Aquamarine
Aquamarine is a great medium for artistic designer cuts like this 10.37-carat beauty. - Lydia Dyer, gem courtesy John Dyer & Co.
Aquamarine Designer Jewelry
Aquamarine that’s too included for faceting is often carved and set into designer jewelry. - © GIA and Tino Hammid
Carat Weight 
Aquamarine crystals come in sizes from very small to very large—some even up to 100 lbs. (45 kg). While large stones are readily available, it’s difficult to use them in jewelry, so there’s less demand for them, except as center stones. As a result, per-carat prices tend to decrease for sizes above 25 carats.

Many very large aquamarine crystals have been discovered. The largest Brazilian aquamarine on record was found in 1910, in Minas Gerais, Brazil. It weighed 244 lbs. (110 kg) and measured 19 in. (48 cm) long and 15 in. (38 cm) in diameter.

ALL CONTENT IS FROM:"Aquamarine." GIA. N.p., n.d. Web.
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