Sunday, February 27, 2011
Aquamarine March Birthstone contributed by Canterbury Vines Studios
Aquamarine (from Latin: aqua marina, "water of the sea") is the blue, or perhaps more correctly, blue-green or aqua variety of the mineral beryl. Other gemstone color varieties that are also the mineral beryl include emerald, morganite, and heliodor. Other colors of beryl are simply referred to by their color, such as red beryl.
Aquamarine is colored by trace amounts of iron. Most gem aquamarines have been heat treated to produce the popular blue-green colors from less desirable yellow or pale stones. The leading producer of aquamarines is the country of Brazil, which has many mines. Pakistan, as well as many U.S. localities, produce wonderful specimens as well. Recently, a new mine in China has produced large numbers of excellent flat (stubby) hexagonal crystals, for a fraction of the price of those beautiful Pakistan specimens. Aquamarine is sometimes found in huge crystals (unlike emerald).
Aquamarine often forms perfect, flawless crystals - also unlike Emerald for which flawless natural crystals are extremely rare. Aquamarine is a relatively common gemstone, and is affordable in lighter colors. Deeper colors can command high prices. Some enormous transparent crystal masses of Aquamarine have been found, and exquisite gems weighing thousands of carats have been cut from them.Light blue Topaz is easily mistaken for Aquamarine. The colors of these two gems can be identical, and their physical properties are very similar. Topaz is generally less expensive. The costs of producing synthetic Aquamarine are very high when compared to the relative abundance of this gem, so synthetic Aquamarine is generally not produced for the gemstone market.
Most Aquamarines on the market are heat treated. Natural Aquamarine is is usually lighter and more greener in color, and heat treatment creates deeper bluer hues. While natural deeper bluish hues do exist, they are uncommon. The gemstone industry considers it an acceptable practice to heat treat Aquamarines.
Aquamarine is the birthstone for March. Happy Birthday March!!
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