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The Aquamarine Gemstone Buying Guide

Updated: Apr 4

What is Aquamarine?

The name Aquamarine translates to 'sea water' in Latin. Legend has it that it was a treasure from mermaids which sailors wore on sea voyages as a protective talisman.

In modern times, this translucent blue gemstone is a true marvel of nature, the perfect centrepiece for a one-of-a-kind modern heirloom. Here is everything you need to know about the luxurious gemstone Aquamarine. 

Aquamarine (Beryllium Aluminium Silicate) is one of the planet's most popular semi-precious minerals. Highly sought after for its crystal-clear clarity and calming blue hue, Aquamarine grows in a hexagonal crystal system and rates 7.5 - 8.00 on the Mohs hardness scale. Its lustre is vitreous; its specific gravity (SG) is 2.6 - 2.8, and its refractive index (RI) is 1.57 - 1.60. 

What Colour is Aquamarine?

The majority of naturally occurring Aquamarine is light blueish-green. Before the 19th century, this colour was fashionable. Today, lower-quality Aquamarine is heated to 752 degrees Celsius to remove impurities and any trace of the green hue, thereby clarifying the material into a pure blue gemstone.

Aquamarine produces a range of blue hues, from pale sky-blue to intense blue-green shades. In its unheated form, the more intense the blue colour, the more valuable the gem. Higher iron content results in deeper blue tones in Aquamarine. Traces of other elements, such as chromium and vanadium, also affect Aquamarine colouration. 

Aquamarine, Green Beryl, Goshenite, Emerald, Heliodor, and Morganite are all Beryl, and they are all from the same family. In its purest form, Beryl is colourless. However, impurities in the mineral change its classification. A trace of iron turns Beryl into Aquamarine, a trace of chromium turns Beryl into Emerald, and a trace of Manganese turns Beryl into Morganite. 

Beryl Crystals - Morganite, Aquamarine and Emerald
Beryl Crystals - Morganite, Aquamarine and Emerald

What is Santa Maria Aquamarine?

The most high-value and coveted Aquamarine crystal is a deep blue. The trade name for this is Santa Maria Aquamarine. The colour-grading sits in a narrow window to be classified as true Santa Maria Aquamarine. The Munsell Colour System, used to grade gemstone colour, has approximately 1500 shades of colour, and only three of those shades constitute Manta Maria Blue. Additionally, the Aquamarine should be unheated and of Brazillian origin.

Aquamarine Gems from The Sapphire Merchant Collection
Aquamarine Gems from The Sapphire Merchant Collection

Where Does Aquamarine Come From?

Aquamarine deposits are found worldwide; however, a handful of origins are particularly notable in the gem trade for their high-quality, consistent source of gem material. 

Aquamarine from Brazil

Brazil is the most significant mining source for Aquamarine today. Famed for its large, high-clarity Aquamarine specimens, Brazil produces the most expensive grade of Aquamarine, which goes by the trade name Santa Maria. Santa Maria Aquamarine is an intense blue in its purest, unheated form. There are active mines in Bahia, Ceara, Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais and Paraíba, with some of these locations actively producing Aquamarine for the past 300 years. The Sapphire Merchant specialises in Brazilian origin Aquamarine because this is the most ethical choice. The mine workers are paid fair wages, and environmental damage has been minimised in partnership with government initiatives. 

Aquamarine from Madagascar 

Madagascar is a gem-rich island that has become one of the leading producers of fine-quality Aquamarine. One deposit in particular, Andilana Avaratra, was struck by accident when miners were looking for Mica. This is the most significant Aquamarine deposit found to date in Madagascar. The discovery of this vein caused a gem rush to the area, threatening a vital wetland with sediment washed off from the mining activities. Here at The Sapphire Merchant, we believe that mining should be conducted in a way that preserves the natural environment. For this reason, we rarely stock Aquamarine from Madagascar.

Aquamarine from Pakistan

Pakistan's rugged and unforgiving terrain holds some of the most sensational Aquamarine deposits known today. In Northern Pakistan, in the mountainous regions of Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, lies pegmatite veins in which Aquamarine is formed. Mining is particularly arduous due to the harsh weather conditions and remote terrain, but it is achievable. This challenging extraction process results in some of the best gem-quality Aquamarine available on the market today.

Origins of Aquamarine
Origins of Aquamarine include Brazil, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, United States, Zambia and Zimbabewe

Aquamarine is the Birthstone of March

Aquamarine is a popular gemstone for those creating custom jewellery pieces in New Zealand and Australia. One factor behind its popularity is its status as the birthstone of March. For this reason, it is used in custom-designed jewellery that is significant for those born under the water zodiac of Pisces. Aquamarine is also a traditional gift given on a 19th wedding anniversary and is said to bring happiness to a marriage

The Dom Pedro Aquamarine
The Dom Pedro Aquamarine

The Dom Pedro Aquamarine

The incredible Aquamarine specimen holds the title of the largest aquamarine specimen in the world. Three mining prospectors discovered it in the late 1980s at Pedra Azul, a mining region in Brazil. Fashioned from an enormous aquamarine crystal, it weighed an astonishing 27kgs and measured 60cm in length before being cut into its obelisk shape by Bernd Munsteiner. It took Munsteiner, a master gem cutter, over six months to complete, and upon completion, he named it the Dom Pedro after Brazil's two emperors who ruled in 1822 and 1841. The Dom Pedro can be viewed at the Gem Collection Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

Queen Elizabeth II Wearing the Brazilian Aquamarine Parure
Queen Elizabeth II Wearing the Brazilian Aquamarine Parure
Aquamarine Jewellery Pieces Worn by Royalty

Aquamarine has adorned Tsarina's, Queen's and Princesses for hundreds of years! Many of these valuable and historical heirlooms are kept in private royal collections to date.

Lady Diana's Aquamarine Divorce Ring

In 2024, the divorce ring is a very on-trend piece of jewellery to have made! Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, commissioned an Aquamarine ring to replace her wedding ring after her divorce from Prince Charles. She was a pioneer well before her time. Diana chose an exceptional 30ct emerald cut Aquamarine and had it set in 24-carat gold and accentuated with the highest quality solitaire diamonds. A ring fit for a princess, she was often photographed wearing it. Diana's son, Prince Harry, gifted the ring to his wife, Meghan Markle, who wore it as her 'something blue' on their wedding day. 

The Brazilian Aquamarine Parure Tiara

One of Queen Elizabeth's favourite headdresses is the breathtaking Brazilian Aquamarine Parure Tiara, presented to her as a gift by the President of Brazil to mark her 1953 coronation. The Queen has been photographed over the years wearing this spectacular item.

Custom 10.46ct Aquamarine and Diamond Pendant
Custom 10.46ct Aquamarine and Diamond Pendant
Custom Aquamarine Jewellery Design

The Sapphire Merchant has designed some notable custom Aquamarine jewellery pieces for our clientele, including Aquamarine engagement rings. Aquamarine is acceptable as an engagement ring gemstone, but it can be a softer gem, so some care should be taken when wearing it day in and day out. Here are two examples of our custom jewellery work with Zircon.

An Aquamarine and Diamond Pendant

Our client is a self-confessed lover of the colour blue, so Aquamarine couldn't be a perfect gemstone choice for her! She previously had an incredible Aquamarine cocktail ring made by The Sapphire Merchant, and she wanted to create a set by adding a matching pendant. We sourced a sensational 10.46ct Aquamarine in a pear cut. Beautifully cut and with outstanding clarity, this jewel encapsulated everything desirable about a good quality Aquamarine. We used the blueprint of her Aquamarine cocktail ring and recreated the design in pendant form. Finishing the pendant in platinum with a halo of forty-three 1.50mm round brilliant diamonds, the result is truly breathtaking. A modern heirloom, framing an exquisite gemstone that took thousands of years to form deep within the earth.

4.60ct Pear Shape Aquamarine Halo Ring
4.60ct Aquamarine Halo Ring

Does Aquamarine Make a Good Engagement Ring Gemstone?

Yes, Aquamarine is a suitable engagement ring gemstone! However, the design must be carefully considered, as Aquamarine is softer than diamonds and sapphires. Setting the Aquamarine in a way that offers it protection against the knocks and bumps of everyday life is easily achievable. A halo-style setting is suitable for an Aquamarine engagement ring. This is when a circle of gemstones or diamonds encircles the girdle of the gem, giving the most vulnerable area of the gemstone a buffer. The Sapphire Merchant will collaborate with you to create your dream Aquamarine engagement ring. Contact us today to start your journey.

The Sapphire Merchant Travels to Source to Handpick our Aquamarine Gemstone Options:

Browse our luscious range of calming natural Aquamarine gemstones. Whatever you can dream of, The Sapphire Merchant can make for you. If you fall in love with one of our Aquamarines and are still determining a design idea, we collaborate with you to create something you will adore for many years to come. Contact The Sapphire Merchant today to start a journey that tells your story with an incredible custom jewellery piece.



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