Aquamarine is a variety of beryl, one of the rarest minerals around, right next to perfect rubies and diamonds.
Usually mined from igneous rocks and other outcroppings like metamorphic rocks, aquamarine is the stuff of legends linked with Water and naturally, voyaging and seafaring. Aquamarine shares the spotlight with other well-known gemstones such as emerald, morganite, and heliodor.
To date, the beryl family remains essential because of its aesthetic and ornamental value, and members of this mineral family continue to be in high demand in the jewelry and gemstone world, both for jewelry collectors and gemstones enthusiasts.
Beryl is rare because it requires beryllium to form (beryllium is a type of metal). Thus, this mineral can only develop in locales with sufficient beryllium levels in the environment.
Types of Aquamarine
Aquamarine is deemed to be the second most in-demand and expensive type of beryl in the world. Aquamarine is the birthstone of those born in March and can be readily identified because of its light, blue-green color. In contrast with emerald, which has a characteristically sharp and deep green coloration, stones within this subtype of beryl are all light-colored.
Technically, all aquamarine is “blue beryl” because this variant will always have blue in it. The color is due to the inclusion of ferrous ions. The color variations are all within the blue spectrum:
- Light blue
- Dark blue
- Blue-green with hints of deeper green
Subtypes of aquamarine can be created by differentiating some of its physical characteristics such as:
Inclusions – Aquamarine may have small quantities of other elements of minerals within it. Examples of typical compositions are pyrite, rutile, and ilmenite.
Chatoyancy – Sometimes, specimens are aptly named cat’s eye aquamarine because of the visual effect when you shine a light on the mineral. The result is mainly due to an increased quantity of tubular structures in the crystal formation, which causes light to bend when any light hits the aquamarine.
Synthetic Aquamarine – Aquamarine can be created in laboratory conditions. The resulting mineralization cannot be distinguished from the natural formation of aquamarine. You will need specialized equipment to differentiate and compare a natural aquamarine gem and a synthetic one. Synthetic aquamarine is considered genuine, but any jewelry store that sells such flowers should be upfront about the source of the mineral and how it came to be.
Treated Aquamarine – As we have discussed elsewhere, minerals are often treated with superheating to improve the quality of their colors. What processing does typically is it removes greenish tinges or color imperfections on the mineralization, so what will emerge is a purer and deeper blue. The “priority” during processing is always the richness of the characteristic blue color, and never the inclusions.
The Maxixe Aquamarine – At one point in time, the jewelry market saw the small tide created by Maxixe aquamarine. Maxixe aquamarine gems are irradiated, so their colors are super deep and super dark. Never has the world seen such deep and vibrant colors before the arrival of Maxixe aquamarine gems.
However, the problem with these was their colors were not stable even after irradiation. Maxixe gems are considered less valuable because they lack the natural characteristics of aquamarine when interacting with light.
According to experts, production of these has mostly died out, but there will be some unscrupulous folks who will try to pass them off as highly valued stones. Please do not fall into their trap.
Despite belonging to the same mineral family, aquamarine can never be passed off as an emerald because of considerable differences in its crystallization and physical properties.
As a mineral sub-type, aquamarine usually shows fewer imperfections like cracks and other inclusions, unlike emeralds, which do. Commercial or mass-market aquamarine jewelry is virtually eye-clean all the time, and you don’t see any fractures anytime soon.
Are aquamarine specimens treated?
Yes, they are. Like other minerals, aquamarine also undergoes treatment (usually superheating) to take care of highly visible imperfections that can dampen the market and reduce the gemstone’s value. Superheating also allows aquamarine to gain a deeper and more bright color.
Often, the aquamarine we see in jewelry stores began as pale blue-green specimens or even yellow specimens. It is through superheating that these colors are modified, and the result aquamarine specimens are improved, boosting their value when they are finally sold as jewelry.
Which aquamarine color is most valuable?
In terms of value, demand, and pricing, aquamarine specimens with the deepest and brightest colors are the ones that could easily fetch higher prices per carat. The ones with the palest shades are inexpensive and are affordable for people who don’t have a large budget for gemstones and jewelry.
Where Are Aquamarine Found?
The number one source of aquamarine gems is Brazil, followed by Madagascar. Madagascar is notable for having a staggering fifty separate localities that produce this precious stone. Aquamarine is also mined in smaller quantities in some regions of the United States, specifically North Carolina, California, and Maine.
How Much Is Aquamarine Worth?
Aquamarine is relatively abundant, so the stone size does not guarantee an exponential rise in the value per carat. So if you have a 20-carat ring and a 1-carat ring, if they are of the same quality, the price is going to be the same.
The value or cost of acquiring aquamarine changes when the quality of the gem goes up. We are talking about the color quality, the state of internal inclusions, clarity, cut, etc. The purity of color is a significant factor in the pricing of aquamarine. The most expensive aquamarine tends to be on the darker blue side of the spectrum.
Small jewelry with one to five carats of aquamarine can be sold for anywhere between twenty dollars or five hundred dollars per carat. Santa Maria aquamarines have a notably deeper color than other types of aquamarine. Therefore, these can fetch much higher prices if only we will base our valuation on color saturation.