In simplest terms, an aquamarine is really a beryl. These minerals are made up of beryllium aluminium cyclosilicate and have the potential of containing a number of impurities. While pure beryl does not have any coloration, iron impurities lead to a blue or greenish-blue tint. When this hue is present, the beryl is considered an aquamarine.
Since the color so closely resembles the blue ocean waters, ancient lore connected the gem to mermaids. When the merfolk held a huge fascination for seafaring villagers, the ownership of this gem was considered a bargaining chip for the safety of sailors. It has been said that mermaids hoarded the stones as treasures. Seafarers who wore aquamarine amulets were thought to be kept safe during storms.
During the Middle Ages, these gems received a reputation as being an antidote to common poisons circulating at the royal courts. While other gems with a similar reputation had to be ground up and placed into a drink to counteract any poison, the aquamarine’s presence on the person of the monarch was thought to be sufficient to act as antidote.
Fortune tellers used the gem as a crystal to foretell the future of those willing to pay a hefty price. Diviners would rely on it when trying to exhort messages from the “other side” at the behest of the living. Healers and shamans would use aquamarine amulets for curing ailments of the digestive tract. It is interesting to note that modern alternative healers claim that this gem also works wonders on arthritic limbs and varicose veins. They also use it to influence the throat chakra.
The majority of modern aquamarines are mined in Brazil, Colorado, Russia and Mozambique. Brazil in particular has become famously connected to these mining activities since the largest gem ever mined came from Brazil. It weighed 243 pounds and was cut into numerous gems with a combined weight of about 100,000 carats. The same holds true for the largest cut gem. The latter is named the Dom Pedro obelisk and weighs in at a respectable 10,363 carats. It is currently on display at the Smithsonian.
Jewelry aficionados know that the most desirable coloration for an aquamarine is a deep blue. The term for these particular stones is maxixe. Gems of this quality frequently originate from Madagascar mines. Jewelry makers have also discovered that it is possible to treat gold, yellow or some faded colors with irradiation to generate the desired blue hue.
Buyers appreciate the hardness of the stone, which makes it suitable for daily wear. It is the birthstone for those born in March. Jewelers frequently give the aquamarine a step cut that displays its gorgeous coloration to the fullest advantage. Brilliant and cabochon cuts are also quite common. The stone’s color perfectly complements a white gold or platinum setting.
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