Aquamarine, from the Latin aquaand mare meaning water and sea, is a blue variety of the mineral beryl, with the chemical composition Be3Al2(SiO3)6. Naturally colourless, when tinted with specific impurities beryls are called by other names including emerald (green), bixbite (red), morganite (pink) and heliodor (golden). The typical pale blue colour of aquamarine is caused by the presence of iron. The more intense the colour of an aquamarine, the more valuable it is considered to be, with the deepest blue variety called maxixe. However today many aquamarines are artificially given an intenser blue colour using irradiation by high-energy particles such as gamma rays and neutrons - considered a standard and acceptable procedure in the gem trade.
Deposits of aquamarine are found in several places including the US, Sri Lanka, Russia, Colombia, Zambia, China Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, Pakistan and Kenya. The finest and largest specimens come from Brazil. Unlike emerald, aquamarine is almost always entirely free of inclusions or flaws and is sometimes found in huge crystals. Aquamarine is both hard and durable (7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale) and possesses moderate to good brilliance, which makes it a very popular gemstone with jewellery designers.
The biggest aquamarine ever mined was found near the city of Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1910. It weighed over 110.5 kg, and its dimensions were 48.5 cm long and 42 cm in diameter. Another famous stone is the 'Dom Pedro', weighing 26 Kg and cut in Idar-Oberstein in 1992 by the gemstone designer Bernd Munsteiner.
Varieties of beryl have been considered precious since prehistoric times. Stones dating to 480 to 300 BC have been found in Greek excavations while beryls are mentioned in the Bible as one of the stones found in the Jewish High Priest's breastplate (Exodus 28).
Called the stone of Courage and Protection, aquamarine was traditionally thought to come from the treasure chests of mermaids and was regarded as the sailors' lucky stone, keeping them safe from drowning and preventing seasickness. Aquamarine is also considered to be a stone of serenity and calmness. In the Middle Ages it was thought that aquamarines could reduce the effect of poisons.
Aquamarine opens your intuition and awareness, is associated most with the throat Chakra, and can be used to promote verbal self-expression, spiritual communication and clear communication blocks.
References and Further Reading
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