Aquamarine gemstones are relatively common in comparison with some other (rarer) precious stones and their colors of light blue to blue-green are the choice of many people whose love of the sea draws them to this delightful stone. The name “aquamarine” is derived from the Latin for “water of the sea”.
Aquamarine is a form of Beryl. This type of stone also contains other gemstone varieties, including Emerald and some lesser known varieties such as Morganite and Heliodor.
Aquamarine gemstones range in color from a faint light blue to blue and bluish-green, with lighter colored stones being the more common type. Light green Beryl can be transformed into Aquamarine if heated to 750º F (400º C). The green hues in most Aquamarine can also be removed through heat treatment.
Light blue Topaz is easily mistaken for Aquamarine; the colors of these two gems can be identical and their physical properties are very similar. Topaz is generally less expensive and some fraudulent dealers may try to sell their Topaz stones as Aquamarines.
Unlike for example Emerald, Aquamarine gemstones are often completely flawless and Aquamarines with visible flaws are rarely seen. The costs of producing synthetic Aquamarines are very high when compared to the relative abundance of this gem, so synthetic Aquamarine is generally not produced for the gemstone market.
How Aquamarine Gemstones are formed
Natural aquamarines are found in indigenous rocks. These are the oldest rocks known – the name indigenous also coming from the Latin word for fire. Millions of years ago, volcanic eruptions brought hot mineral rich magma up towards the surface of the earth where it became trapped in cavities and formed into crystals when it started to cool. Aquamarines are one of the many types of natural crystals that were formed in this way.
The natural gemstones vary in size due to the rate at which the cooling of the mineral rich magma took place. For example, where the cooling process was slower, larger crystals will have been formed.
Where Aquamarines are found
Aquamarines are found in many parts of the world, with Sri Lanka being particularly well known for its gemstones.
Brazil is the largest producer of Aquamarines with other important producers being Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma), Russia (Siberia), China, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, and the United States (Colorado and California).
Geomorphology equipment is used to identify where gemstones are likely to be found and mining techniques vary considerably, depending on how near the surface the gemstones are. The least invasive form of mining is open cast or surface mining, where the metamorphic rocks containing aquamarines and other gemstones lie are not far below the surface.
In these conditions, simple processes using pneumatic drills, air or gas pressure and hand tools may be all that is needed to release the aquamarines. However, where the gemstones are trapped deep down in rocks then other forms of mining, such as open pit mining, quarrying and underground mining may be required.
The best quality natural Aquamarine gemstones are transparent and translucent with hues varying from a very pale blue to a deeper blue found with the rarer gems. Some people prefer their aquamarine gemstones to have a greener hue reminding them more strongly of the sea.
A natural Aquamarine is a beautiful part of the ancient past and one to be treasured forever. Gemvara has an excellent range of high quality natural Aquamarine Rings where you can customize your chosen design to any metal (eg Sterling Silver) online.