The birthstone for the month of March conjures those blue Spring skies that are just around the corner, and brings with it much of the lightheartedness, calm, and whimsy of the warmer days ahead.
Like Emerald, aquamarine is a form of the mineral beryl. In its pure form, beryl is colorless, but when the mineral contains trace amounts of ferrous iron, its palette ranges from the familiar pale greenish blue to deep blue. Reflecting these characteristic colors, the name Aquamarine translates from Latin to “water of the sea,” and has historically been believed to protect sailers, fishermen, and travelers.
Like most colored gemstones, aquamarine is often gently heat-treated to remove greenish tints and bring out the blue tones of the gemstone, a very common and virtually undetectable treatment. Contemporary markets have embraced the natural range of colors of aquamarine, celebrating the different greens and blues that evoke a calm and peaceful sea and inspire the imagination.
Aquamarine, and in fact many varieties of Beryl, sometimes forms with tube-like inclusions; these can be transparent or made of metallic minerals like hematite. These types of inclusions are so characteristic of this mineral species that they are used by gemologists to distinguish beryl from other minerals. Beryl can also form with inclusions of other minerals including garnet, quartz, and even tourmaline!
At a 7.5-8 on the Moh’s hardness scale, aquamarine is very scratch-resistant and does not require any special care. It has been worn in jewelry for centuries and is considered a robust enough gemstone for everyday wear. However, beryl can sometimes have a somewhat brittle crystal structure, so aquamarine jewelry should not be placed in an ultrasonic cleaner or other mechanical cleaning system. At home, a soft toothbrush with warm water and a bit of dish soap can help to clean and shine up your aquamarine jewelry without risking any damage to the stone.
Its soothing color palette, resilience in jewelry, and fabled protective properties make aquamarine a perfect gemstone to wear as you march forward into Spring.