This lovely blue stone is still one of my very favorites! A member of the beryl mineral family whose fellow beryl ‘siblings’ include emerald and morganite, aquamarine has been the modern birthstone for March since its adoption by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Owing its pale greenish, blue color to the presence of a small proportion of oxide of iron, the aquamarine has been made into jewelry as early as the Roman Republic where examples of earrings, ring and cameos have been found.
With its watery blue, pale green hues and crystal clearness, the gem’s name, “aquamarine,” is derived from the Latin words for water (aqua) and sea (marina), or “water of the sea,” so it’s no coincidence that the aquamarine has long been associated with the ocean. Ancient legends claim that the aquamarine was found in a Mermaid’s treasure chest, as evidenced by the ancient philosopher Pliny, who paid tribute to this gem of vitality, stating, “the lovely aquamarine, which seems to have come from some mermaid’s treasure house, in the depths of a summer sea, has charms not to be denied.”
ICON Jewels Collection 40.00 Carats Julius Cohen Aquamarine, Emerald and Diamond Floral Brooch
18K YG (72 x 50mm)
Believed to possess protective qualities, ancient Greek and Roman sailors were known to carry the gem with them on long voyages, ensuring the safe and prosperous passage across stormy seas. In the Christian era, the Apostle St. Thomas is identified by the aquamarine as it resembled the blue skies and sea he frequently journeyed by to preach salvation.
ICON Collection : A 33 Carats Pear Shape Aquamarine and Diamond Necklace
Other popular associations of the aquamarine is that with love, marriage and everlasting youth. According to Roman beliefs, the gem was believed to absorb the atmosphere of young love and was frequently given to brides at weddings so that the auras of the newlywed bliss would blend in with the aquamarine, preserving and increasing their mutual love, confirmed by the Roman Camillus Leonardus, “it renders the bearer cheerful and increases and preserves married love.” During Medieval times, the aquamarine rekindled the love of married couples and was thus a popular gift to give on certain milestone wedding anniversaries.
ICON Collection : 70 Carat Emerald Cut Aquamarine and Diamond Pendant
Similar to other gemstones in pre-modern medicine, the aquamarine was often used to cure certain ailments throughout history. The aforementioned ancient Roman Camillus Leonardus stated that “it cures distempers of the throat and jaws, and is good for indispositions of the live and disorders of the stomach.” In the dark about modern medicine, the Middle Ages often turned to gemstones for their supposed spiritual and healing powers. At the end of the eleventh century, Marbodus, the bishop of Rennes, wrote the influential Liber Lapidium (Book of Stones), in which he defined the magical qualities of sixty stones. William Langland’s “The Vision Concerning Piers and the Plowman,” from 1377, mentions the aquamarine as an antidote for poison.
During antiquity, Sri Lanka and Burma were major sources for aquamarine and, according to Pliny, it was also found in India and the Ural Mountains. Today, the major source of aquamarine, as well as the source of the finest specimens, is Brazil, where the crystals occur most commonly in pegmatites whose cavities allow the crystals to grow to large sizes. The finest aquamarines originate from the pegmatite deposits of the Minas Gerais region in Brazil, which is also where the largest ever aquamarine was found in 1910 with a weight of over 110 kg. Apart from Brazil, aquamarine can be found in the mines of Colombia, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Namibia.