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Birthstone of the Month for March: Aquamarine

Birthstone Jewellery

The March birthstone is the beautiful and immediately recognisable aquamarine. This stone belongs to the beryl family, which also includes the emerald. For a long time, aquamarine was a symbol of health, love and protection, and it has been worn by royalty throughout the centuries. This popular gem is also a favourite of many global stars, including Jessica Biel, Angelina Jolie and Elton John.

The mesmerising seawater colour of this gemstone is reminiscent of the ocean and makes aquamarine the perfect gem for spring.

Brief History of Aquamarine

Deriving from Latin, the word ‘aquamarine’ means ‘seawater’. The vibrant blue hues of the stone have been admired by many ancient civilizations, from Sumerian and Egyptian to Greek and Roman. The gem was linked to Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea, and worn by Ancient Greeks in the form of amulets engraved with Poseidon on a chariot. The first documented used of aquamarine has been traced back to Ancient Greece around the time period 480 to 300 BC.

In Medieval times, aquamarine was also believed to make soldiers invincible and to be a cure for poison. The stone was also once associated with the Apostle St Thomas because he is said to have made long journeys by sea to preach salvation in other countries. Aquamarine was thought to protect sailors and safeguard their voyages and believed by many to be the treasure of mermaids.

The state of Minas Gerais in Brazil has been a key source of this mineral gem for two hundred years, with stones weighing several kilos discovered here. Aquamarine crystals measuring 3 feet are not that rare since beryl crystals tend to grow to very large sizes, some even up to 30 feet. Other locations where the gemstone can be found are Madagascar (home to a beautiful blue variety of aquamarine called maxixe), India, Pakistan and the United States.

Image: 18ct White Gold Aquamarine and Diamond Cluster Flower Earrings

Properties of Aquamarine

The properties of the stunning aquamarine make it a very popular gem that stands out for its gorgeous hues. Beloved and sought-after by many around the world, aquamarine is the gem of choice for those who appreciate fine beauty and who wish to purchase a stone for any occasion. Some of the features that make aquamarine so special include:

Colour – Aquamarine hues range from nearly clear to dark blue, with darker shades being more rare and valuable; smaller gems tend to be less vivid in colour. This difference in intensity is due to varying quantities of iron in the beryl. Usually, aquamarines that possess a greenish tint are heat-treated to remove the yellow component.

Hardness – The March birthstone has a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, a durability that makes it perfect for everyday wear.

Flawlessness – This semi-precious stone doesn’t have any visible inclusions, so many consider it a flawless gem; if an aquamarine has inclusions, they will only visible through magnification.

Lustre – Aquamarine has superb transparency and clarity and offers a beautiful shine that always catches the light. This further adds to the stone’s oceanic charm.

Cut – Because the colour of this gemstone is often very light, cut is important to showcase the gem’s natural brilliance. The most common type of cut for aquamarines is emerald, followed closely by oval and pear. Aquamarine is relatively easy to cut and use in jewellery.

Size – Large aquamarine gems are not as rare as you may believe. Stones weighing more than ten carats are fairly common and, sometimes, crystals weighing hundreds of pounds are found.

Image: 18ct White Gold Aquamarine and Diamond Cluster Drop Pendant

Famous Aquamarine Around the World

Throughout the centuries, aquamarine has been hugely popular, especially since the 17th century, and adorned by many who sought to enjoy its beauty. The lovely hues and spectacular properties of this stone make it a favourite of celebrities and royalty alike. Some of the world’s most famous aquamarines are:

  • Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara – In 1953, the Brazilian president gifted Queen Elizabeth II an aquamarine necklace and a pair of earrings for her coronation. This sparked in her a lifelong love for this semi-precious stone. In 1957, the Queen commissioned a tiara with three large aquamarines to match the demi-parure; she has been seen wearing this tiara several times, which many speculate is her favourite.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt’s Aquamarine – Presented to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1936 by the government of Brazil, this beautiful aquamarine is a dark blue rectangular-cut stone that weighs 1,298 carats; the gem is now housed at the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park in New York.
  • Dom Pedro Aquamarine – Believed to be the world’s largest faceted aquamarine, this 10,363-carat aquamarine measures, approximately, 36 centimetres. It was fashioned from the largest gem-quality crystal ever discovered, which weighed 60 pounds (over 27 kilos), by German artist and gem cutter Berndt Munsteiner using the fantasy cut technique. Munsteiner allegedly spent 3 months studying the crystal and 6 months cutting it, and it’s believed that $250,000 was lost in aquamarine dust for each initial cut made to shape the crystal. Originating from Minas Gerais, the Dom Pedro aquamarine was discovered around two decades ago and named after the first Emperor of Brazil.

Aquamarine at Banks Lyon

Aquamarine is the quintessence of luxury, beauty and elegant brilliance. Desirable for its striking and rich shades of blue that evoke the colour of the sea and of clear skies, as well as for its durability, this gem is truly one-of-a-kind and will last generations.

This birthstone creates a beautiful accent to any outfit, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the semi-precious gem is extremely sought-after in the jewellery world. As the 19th anniversary stone, aquamarine makes a wonderful gift for that special person in your life as well.

We stock a wide variety of aquamarine jewellery with a contemporary and timeless appeal that will never go out of fashion.

Image: 18ct White Gold 7.48ct Aquamarine and Diamond Classic Cocktail Ring

You can visit our Lancaster and Kendal stores to see our superb aquamarine pieces, or our other birthstone jewellery, in person.