Buyer's Guide to Aquamarine Gemstones

Aquamarine sparkles like sun on the sea. In fact, it’s named from the latin for “water of the sea,” aqua marina.

Legends say that aquamarine is the treasure of mermaids, with the power to keep sailors safe at sea. Its powers are said to be enhanced when it is immersed in water.

In addition to calming the waves, in legend aquamarine also has a soothing influence on relationships, especially on married couples. Its power to ensure a long and happy marriage makes it a good anniversary gift.

SHOP Aquamarine RINGS

The History and Meaning of Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a pastel blue variety of beryl, the mineral that also includes emerald and pastel pink morganite.

The meaning of aquamarine is happiness and harmony. A dream of aquamarine means that you will meet new friends.

But even the queen’s pink diamond pales in comparison to the Pink Star, which was discovered in South Africa in 1999. This fancy vivid pink diamond weighing 59.60 carats was a centerpiece of the Smithsonian’s Splendor of Diamonds Exhibit. In April 2017, the Pink Star set the world auction record price for any diamond or jewel when it sold for $71.2 million to jeweler Chow Tai Fook, who named it the CTF Pink Star.

Set in jewelry and engraved talismans by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, aquamarine became even more popular after finds in Brazil in the 16th and 17th century.

Aquamarine is featured in royal collections. Queen Elizabeth has a beautiful collection of aquamarine jewelry known as the Brazil Parure. In 1953, she received a coronation gift of an aquamarine necklace and earrings from the President and people of Brazil. The Queen had a matching tiara made in 1957. In 1958, the Brazilian Government gave her a bracelet and brooch. The queen sometimes wears the tiara, necklace, bracelet and earrings together.

Although miners sometimes discover huge aquamarine crystals like a 244-pound crystal discovered in Brazil in 1910, the gem is so valuable that they are inevitably cut into smaller gems for jewelry. A few large cut aquamarines can be seen in museums around the world.

At 10,395 carats, the Dom Pedro aquamarine obelisk by gem sculptor Bernd Munsteiner in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is the largest cut aquamarine. The Smithsonian also has a 1,000 carat faceted aquamarine called the “Most Precious.”

Aquamarine Gemstone Engagement Rings

Here are some of our favorite aquamarine gemstone engagement rings!

Where Aquamarine is Mined

Most of the aquamarine on the market today is still mined in Brazil. Most of the mines are in the state of Minas Gerais, the center of the gemstone industry in the country.

In the 1950s, rare aquamarine with an incredible dark blue color was discovered at the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Minas Gerais. This aquamarine was the finest quality ever seen. Although the deposit was soon exhausted, connoisseurs still use Santa Maria aquamarine to mean aquamarine of exceptional quality. Some dealers call the best quality aquamarine from Mozambique Santa Maria Africana aquamarine. Of course, it doesn’t have anything to do with the original mine, it’s just clever marketing. All mines produce good and bad qualities: origin is never a guarantee of quality.

In addition to Brazil and Mozambique, aquamarine is mined in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, and Pakistan. The aquamarines in the ancient world probably came from Sri Lanka, which also produces small quantities of aquamarine today. A few aquamarine of good quality have been mined in Maine.

Why We Love Aquamarine

Aquamarine’s color is icy and refreshing, beautiful against the warmth of your skin. It complements almost all the colors in your wardrobe from neutrals to brights to pastels.

When newlyweds Meghan Markle and Prince Harry drove to their wedding reception, Meghan wore a striking aquamarine ring that once belonged to Princess Diana. It reminded us all of how glamorous this gem can be and our hopes that their marriage will be a happy one.

Faceted aquamarine is often exceptionally transparent with vitreous luster so it really sparkles. It’s stunning even uncut. Aquamarine grows in beautiful six-sided prismatic crystals that can be a foot long, some of the most beautiful crystals of the gem world.

Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and the gemstone for the 19th anniversary. But it also beautiful set in an engagement ring, wedding gift like Meghan’s ring, or earrings.

How to Buy Aquamarine

Aquamarine is always a pastel blue but the darker the color, the more valued it is. You are looking for an intense pastel blue. Traditionally jewelers looked for aquamarine without a greenish tint but today some people prefer the turquoise blue hue of the sea. Greenish aquamarine is often heated to remove the yellow component of the color.

Aquamarines often have to have a fairly large carat weight—generally over 5 carats—to show intense, dark color. Aquamarines from some mines in Africa in Nigeria, Madagascar, and Mozambique are known for producing darker colors in sizes under 5 carats. For this reason, smaller top-color aquamarine gemstones might sell for more per carat than larger stones of the same color, which is very unusual.

At RockHer, we’ve matched our preferred aquamarine colors to Pantone’s system to communicate the range of blues available. Which blue is your favorite?

Because aquamarine is lighter in color, look for eye clean gems with no visible inclusions. In recent years, milky aquamarine has also become popular in cabochons and carvings.

Cut quality is very important for the beauty of aquamarine gemstones: a well-cut aquamarine will sparkle evenly across the entire gemstone with no dull, washed out, or lifeless areas.

Many aquamarines have had their color enhanced by heat treatment to remove green. This treatment is usually not detectable by gemologists since the temperature is relatively low. You should assume that your aquamarine has been heated.

Aquamarine Buying Guide Checklist

  • Aquamarine Color: Pastel greenish blue to blue
  • Aquamarine Clarity: Eye clean
  • Aquamarine Shapes: Emerald cut and ovals are most common
  • Aquamarine Cut: Well proportioned, with overall brilliance
  • Aquamarine Polish: Excellent
  • Aquamarine Treatment: Heat

How to Care for Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a very hard gemstone with a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. Although aquamarine’s color is stable, avoid exposure to high heat. To keep your rings clean, don't wear them when applying lotion or creams or using cleaning products like cleanser.Store all your gemstone jewelry separately, especially when travelling, so gems and metal can’t scratch each other. Clean with mild dish soap: use a soft brush behind the stone where dust can collect.

Aquamarine vs Blue Topaz

The blue gem most similar to aquamarine is blue topaz, which also has a pastel blue hue. The biggest difference between the two is that the color of blue topaz is the result of irradiation treatment, which is why blue topaz is much more affordable than aquamarine. Although aquamarine is more valuable, blue topaz is often a better choice for jewelry set with a lot of very small gemstones because small carat weight sizes of aquamarine gemstones are often very pale. Blue topaz has a slightly higher refractive index than aquamarine so small gems will sparkle a bit more too. But blue topaz is much more dense than aquamarine. A one-carat weight aquamarine will be noticeably larger than a one-carat weight topaz.

Best Aquamarine Engagement Ring Styles

The most popular aquamarine engagement ring style is a diamond halo ring with a pave band. Aquamarine solitaire engagement rings are also popular, especially with a large center aquamarine gemstone. Three stone rings most often have an emerald cut or oval aquamarine in the center and pear shaped or round diamonds on the side. Aquamarine is complemented by all three colors of gold: white gold, yellow gold and rose gold.

What Aquamarine Rings Cost

You’d be surprised how far your money can go shopping for an aquamarine engagement ring. Here are our picks for gorgeous aquamarine rings to fit some common engagement ring budgets.

Classic Petite Round Aquamarine & Diamond Engagement Ring

Kelly

Oval Aquamarine & Diamond Double Halo Engagement Ring

Britney

Round Aquamarine & Diamond Halo Engagement Ring

Dylan