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Guide to Aquamarine by Steve Moriarty

What colors is Aquarmarine available in? 

Greenish blue to blue. Greenish blue can be heated to remove yellow which will often turn it to blue.  

How can you tell if aquamarine is real or fake?

It is difficult to I. D. aqua without gemological equipment.  Synthetic spinel is a dead ringer for Aquamarine.  Separation can be done with a refractometer, a dicroscope or the Hanneman aqua filter.

Where is Aquamarine found in the world? Where can it be mined? 

The most productive source of fine Aquamarine over the last 100 years has been Brazil with the finest being known as Santa Maria. Today the finest I have purchased have come from Ankosobe, Madagascar.  Other great sources include Nigeria, Mozambique, Zambia, Pakistan, Tanzania and recently fine aqua crystals have come from Vietnam.  Many other countries produce aquarmarine including to a small degree the United States mostly from Colorado and California. 

Can Aquamarine be clear? 

No, it cannot be clear. Clear beryl is known as Goshenite, which is different than this gemstone.

How much is Aquamarine worth? How much is Aquamarine per carat? 

Generally I find aquamarine prices from $20-$600 per carat based mostly on depth and desirability of color.  Some greenish blue colors are highly desirable while in others the green is a detractor and is often heated to remove the yellow component that causes the green.  Aquas come quite large so size does not affect price as much as it does in other gems.  Because the lighter color of aquamarines, inclusions are easily seen within the stone, therefore clarity has a significant effect on price.

How do you tell the difference between Aquamarine and Blue Topaz?

Density is significantly different so hefting a stone can sometimes give a clue to which it is with the topaz being the heavyweight.  Many topaz are just too deep of color to be an aqua.  Otherwise the previously mentioned gemological equipment will tell the difference.  The Presidium Gem Tester II is a helpful tool for this separation. 

What kind of stone is Aquamarine?

Aquamarine is a beryl a beryllium aluminum silicate mineral, which includes, emerald (green), green beryl (lighter non chromium green), morganite (pink to peach), heliodore (yellow to golden yellow), bixbite (pink to red), goshenite (colorless).

How do you clean Aquamarine? 

Most any cleaning method including ultrasonic cleaners can be used.  All cleaning solutions including the “pickle” can be used on Aquamarine.  Avoid steam cleaning.

Can Aquamarine be the December birthstone? 

No, its not aquamarine or blue topaz, its blue zircon that is the birthstone for December.
 

What month has aquamarine as its birthstone? 

Aquamarine is the March birthstone.
 

How many sides does an Aquamarine crystal have?

It is a hexagonal crystal with 6 sides.
 

Is Aquamarine a precious or semi-precious stone?

This term was originally related to price and is no longer a valid term for Aquamarine with its current high prices. 
 

Is Aquamarine considered rare?

While Aquamarine overall is of moderate rarity,  deep colors of high clarity are currently quite rare. 
 

Is Aquamarine a hard or soft stone? 

Aquamarines are 7.5-8 hardness on the Moh’s scale and are considered relatively hard being good for everyday wear in rings. 
 

Is Aquamarine magnetic?

Yes due to the presence of iron it is slightly to moderately magnetic which can help in the separation from topaz and synthetic blue spinel.  Natural blue spinels are also magnetic.
 

Are Aquamarine treated?

Heat treatment is common, irradiation is known as in “maxixe” Aquamarine. 

Can Aquamarine get wet?  

Few chemicals including water will have any negative effect on Aquamarine. 

Can Aquamarine lose it's color or fade? Can it change color? 

It will not fade. Green secondary colors can be removed by heating. Irradiated Aquamarine known as “maxixe beryl” will fade easily with daylight exposure.

Can Aquamarine be scratched easily? Can it be worn everyday?

It will not scratch easily and it can be worn everyday.

How is Aquamarine graded? 

Depth of color is most important. Quality of color has an effect as some blue colors have secondary grayish tones as in aqua from Mozambique. Greens as in “seafoam green” can be highly desirable while some green can be a detractor.  Clarity is of high importance with eye visible inclusions having a significant negative effect on value.
  
Cutting is important as the low refractive index of beryl makes cutting quality even more critical. Many aquamarines are cut too shallow opening a window out the pavilion of the gem.  Cut correctly aquamarines can have outstanding brilliance.
Hope this guide has helped answer your most important questions!
Steve Moriarty

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