Aquamarine has long been a popular choice for rings and other forms of jewelry, and it’s seeing a resurgence in popularity. Interested buyers are shopping for aquamarine engagement rings, and fashion-conscious consumers are integrating more aquamarine jewelry into their daily attire.
But what is aquamarine, and what should you know about it before you buy it?
What Is Aquamarine?
First, let’s talk about the physics of aquamarine as a gemstone. It’s technically part of the beryl family of minerals, occurring as a light blue or cyan shade. There’s also a deep blue variety that’s sometimes called maxixe.
Aquamarine occurs in most places that yield beryl in general, with Colombia leading international production; it can also be found in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming and in the Sawatch Range of central Colorado. Generally speaking, the quality of aquamarine is determined based on its color and richness.
Symbolism and History
Aquamarine has a rich symbolism to support its use as a gemstone. In some circles, aquamarine is believed to embody the purity of clear water, and deep relaxation. It’s also associated with calmness, cleansing, and letting go. Historically, aquamarine was believed to be valued by mermaids—which is why many sailors wore or carried aquamarine as a totem of protection and good fortune. Still today, aquamarine is heavily associated with the sea.
Traditionally, aquamarine is also the birthstone of people born in March. In this context, aquamarine is believed to represent youth, health, and hope, and is heavily associated with spring.
How to Buy Aquamarine
If you’re interested in buying aquamarine rings or other forms of jewelry, there are a few factors worth your consideration.
For starters, you can review aquamarine stones with the four “C’s,” much like you could with a diamond:
- Color. For aquamarine, the ideal color is something dark blue to slightly greenish blue, with a moderate intensity that still allows light to penetrate. That said, your personal preference may vary, and there’s a fairly wide spectrum of color to choose from in aquamarine.
- Clarity. Inclusions in your aquamarine should be rare, with good transparency. Related gemstones, like emerald, frequently tolerate inclusions; however, aquamarine should be as clear as possible. You may be able to find aquamarine with a milky discoloration for a discount, if you don’t mind its appearance.
- Cut. Aquamarine is a workable stone, so you’ll be able to see it in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. That said, aquamarine is most commonly cut to resemble emeralds, or as round cuts. If you’re looking for something unique, you can look for vintage aquamarine rings or customize your own design.
- Carat weight. Aquamarine is rare, but not as rare as the diamond. Accordingly, you may be able to find gems of 25 carats or more. Generally speaking, the larger the carat weight, the deeper the color is going to be; gems under five carats tend to be pale, while bigger gems will offer a richer color.
Be on the lookout for scams and “fake” aquamarine. Because the color and transparency can be readily imitated, unscrupulous sellers may be inclined to try and sell you something false. Real, fine aquamarine is both rare and expensive, so expect to pay a high amount for a quality gemstone.
Additionally, you’ll notice that aquamarine and blue topaz have a similar color and structure. However, blue topaz is much less expensive. Blue topaz is less expensive, because it’s common and easy to produce; you can treat colorless topaz with radiation to get this color. Some aquamarine is similarly treated to enhance its blue color, but it’s still much rarer and more collectable; it’s also considered finer and richer in color.
Some rings may come with side stones, meant to complement the center stone. If these stones are all aquamarine, be prepared for a slight color mismatch. Remember, the richness of the aquamarine’s color will deepen as it increases in size, so smaller stones may end up looking paler by comparison.
Depending on the jeweler where you purchase your piece, you may be able to learn the origins of the aquamarine stone; however, most people do not take the origin of the stone into consideration. An aquamarine stone with the same color, clarity, cut, and carat weight will be priced the same regardless of where it is originally found.
While there are some “standard” ways to evaluate aquamarine, some of your decision will boil down to personal preference; you may prefer a paler or deeper color, or a shade that’s pure blue or closer to green. The best way to make your aquamarine buying decision is to review as many stones as possible, taking their prices into consideration as well, so you can learn and identify your wants.