Like emerald, aquamarine is a colour variety of the mineral beryl. First discovered in 1723, it’s formed in igneous rock all over the planet – from Kenya to Brazil, Afghanistan, Russia and even 15,000 feet in the air in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains. It grows in six-sided prismatic crystals that, on some occasions, can be more than a foot long. Naturally, its colour is usually a pastel greenish-blue, with heat treatment often responsible for the bright azure hue most of us are familiar with.
Weighing in at a whopping 244 pounds, the world’s largest and most valuable aquamarine to date was mined in Brazil’s Minas Gerais in 1910.
The name aquamarine derives from Latin, and roughly translates as ‘water of the sea.’ It’s thought to possess protective qualities, popularly donned by sailors who were comforted by its potential to calm waves, kerb queasiness and keep them safe at sea.
In a similar vein, aquamarine is also thought to promote satisfaction in marriage and relieve anxieties.
Aquamarine scores a 7.5-8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, so is reasonably well-equipped to withstand daily wear and tear. But, despite its resilience – and reputation for enhancing happiness – we sadly don’t get the opportunity incorporate beautiful aquamarine into our jewels often.
In fully traceable form, aquamarine is still extremely limited in availability. This means that it’s often not provided at all by our trusted gemstone supplier – and when it is, it’s usually graded at a Level 3 on their ethics scale. Stones graded at this level are legally exported from known countries of origin, having not financed any civil wars – but little more is known of them than that. In other words, their provenance is semi-reassuring but still somewhat vague when it comes to details of mining processes, working conditions and wages.
The most traceable blue gemstone option currently available to us is the sapphire – which, when sourced from our supplier, can be traced all the way back to it specific mine of origin, where the mining process itself is carefully monitored and assessed for risks. Sapphires are available in a wide range of hues, and sourcing one in the glorious pale greenish-blue tone of the typical aquamarine doesn’t tend to prove difficult. To learn more about how we source our ethical coloured gemstones, click here.