When I was little, my mum had a very vibrant friend called Sophie, someone who looked as though she fell out of a fashion magazine with black hair and radiant eyes, who always had something to say. Sophie wore an incredible aquamarine ring, cushion cut and set in white gold. I recall the ring was so large that I thought, “she must be taking it out for a walk” as you would a pet, each time she came to visit. The magnificence of that Aquamarine stone still dances in my memory. It would catch the light and send fragments of happiness across the ceiling and room. When I first met Sophie, I thought I’d probably have to “kiss the ring” as it had an allure that stood on its own. Blue pools of water reflecting upon her hand, beckoning one to come and dive in.
Myths and Legends
The color of Aquamarine is derived by traces of iron in the Beryl crystal structure. The stone grows in long shards with a six-sided crystal shape. Being a pleochroic mineral, it shows different colors in different crystal directions. The name Aquamarine is from two Latin words, Aqua, meaning water and Marina meaning of the sea. The first documented use of Aquamarine was between 300-480 BC when it was said that that the stone was used in an Amulet for Poseidon the Greek God of the Sea. Aquamarine can be found in art made by the Greeks dating back thousands of years. The Romans believed it could cure medical ailments and associated the stone with Neptune, the King of the Sea. Neptune was known to give it as gifts to Mermaids. Sailors believed that Aquamarine came from the Mermaid’s treasure chest and they would throw Aquamarine into the water as it was said to calm the Gods. The Egyptians and Sumerians believed it would freeze the radical aging process, keeping their youth as well as granting happiness. The Egyptians also placed it with them for their journey to the afterlife. As well as Brazil, Aquamarine is also found in Kenya, Afghanistan, Russia and other parts of the world.
How BIG is Large?
In 1936 the Brazilian President Getulio Vargas and his wife gifted a 1,298-carat Aquamarine called the Roosevelt to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. It was from the Vargas private collection and from the Minas Gerais mine. In 1947 Mrs. Roosevelt donated the magnificent Aquamarine to the Roosevelt Library.
The largest stone found is the Dom Pedro Aquamarine discovered in Brazil in the 1980s, named after the first two Brazilian Emperors, Pedro I and Pedro II. All large crystals are immediately named when they are found. From 1992-1993, the Dom Pedro Aquamarine was cut by Bernd Munsteiner, (a third generation master designer and gem cutter, trained by his father and grandfather) who studied the stone for many months. He did not focus on the carat weight, his only concern was to make something outstanding, never seen before. It took such great concentration that he would only work 2 hours at a time, taking almost 6 months to complete his masterpiece. He also incorporated his vision as part of this Aquamarine and added the name Ondas Maritimas “Waves of the Sea” and the remaining stone is 14 inches tall by 4 inches wide with a weight of a staggering 10,363 carats (about 4.6 lbs). This beauty is on exhibit at the National Museum of Natural history.
Can you imagine sleeping next to such a large stone? I wonder if it would keep you cool on a hot day? Drifting away, gazing at the beautiful tranquility.
Colors of the Sea
Today Aquamarine is used to celebrate the 19th Wedding Anniversary and the colors range from sea-foam green, blue-green and teal. The blues found on Aquamarine are derived by two types of Iron, Ferrous and Ferric Iron. Ferrous Iron is responsible for the gorgeous blue and Ferric Iron adds the splashes of green to the stone. Most Aquamarine is heat treated to remove the green, keeping the gorgeous blue hues that it’s most known for. The deepest and rarest Aquamarine Blue is referred to as Santa Maria blue, named in honor of Santa Maria de Itabira, which is the site in Brazil where the first such stones were discovered in the 1950s. In the United States Aquamarine is the official State Gemstone of Colorado found in the mountain peaks of Mount Antero and White Mountain in Colorado contain some of the finest quality gem Aquamarine known. Aquamarine became the official gemstone on April 30th, 1971 by an act of General Assembly. Aquamarine is one of the most popular gemstones in the world.
Regardless of your preference of which color you prefer the bluer or greener Aquamarine, the color is neutral, and compliments every skin tone. A splash of this brilliant gemstone is always striking and can be worn all year round.
The cousins to Aquamarine are Emerald and Morganite, beautiful relatives.