So, you all know my feelings on amethysts. Want to know an especially mean trick of the world? I was only eight days away from being born in March. And I came early! March babies are lucky to call aquamarine their birthstone, and for good reason. These gems are a beautiful, seawater blue that can be striking or neutral, depending on how it’s set. I love aquamarine for its versatility and the lovely shades of greenish blue in which it comes, so read on for more details about this lovely gemstone…
Aquamarine evokes a sense of calm and serenity, two things I could definitely use more of in my own life. Its metaphysical connotations convey a tranquil, go-with-the-flow essence, and followers of crystal healing practices might employ aquamarine in baths with soothing effect. Historically, aquamarine was used by sailors as a talisman of good luck and to instill a sense of fearlessness for an upcoming journey. Today, it would be a thoughtful gift for a litigator or any other individual who needs to calmly “stay the course” through a difficult sea. I could have used this before our renovations last year…
Most people may not realize that aquamarine are of the same mineral type as emerald and morganite: beryl. “Pure” beryl is colorless and the mineral changes different colors — seawater blue aquamarine, deep emerald green, pale pink morganite — depending on the impurities that enter its composition (such as iron). What’s interesting about aquamarine is that unlike its cousin emerald, which is notoriously brittle and nearly always displays internal inclusions (even the finest cuts), aquamarine cuts are almost exclusively flawless and they are relatively resistant to scratches and cracks. As a result, aquamarine quality grades pertain almost exclusively to the color tone in the gemstone (the deeper, more saturated the color, the higher the grade), unlike diamonds or emeralds which are graded based on color, cut, and the prevalence and type of inclusions found in the gemstone.
Like many colored gemstones, aquamarine are often heat treated before entering the gemstone market. Heat treatments remove yellow from the gemstone tone and promotes a purer blue color. These treatments are quite stable, so aquamarine are generally safe for any type of jewelry cleaning method, including ultrasonic cleaning, steam cleaning, and regular soap and water. This again contrasts with emeralds, which should never be placed in an ultrasonic cleaner or steamed due to their brittle nature. In terms of hardness, aquamarine rank anywhere between a 7 ½ to an 8 on the Mohs scale, rendering them quite resistant to scratching and therefore safe for (most) everyday wear. So, you can wear your aquamarine virtually worry-free!
Probably the most common way I see aquamarine cut are in large emerald shapes, which are perfect for special cocktail rings, like this custom aquamarine ring we recently designed for a client. She opted to have it set in yellow gold to offset the lovely blue hue and accented it with blue sapphire baguettes from an old family ring she had.
Another interesting take on aquamarine are these rough, flat-faceted aquamarine drops, which we’re featuring in our showroom right now. Set in 18k yellow gold, the opacity of the rough aquamarine warms the gem up and brings out the color beautifully. Because they don’t feature elegant, shiny facets like a more typical aquamarine, these drops would make a perfect upscale but down-to-earth accent for everyday wear.
Just this past weekend, a client popped by to design a last-minute birthday gift for her aquamarine daughter. We took inspiration from these small baguettes I had on hand and decided to set a slightly larger cut in a simple bezel for a lovely, elegant necklace her daughter will treasure into adulthood. I thought this was such a lovely way to celebrate a meaningful birthday — both for our client and for her lucky daughter.
For many reasons, aquamarine are a wonderful option for a semi-precious gemstone that brings lots of style for a relatively manageable price. If you’re feeling inspired, reach out to me for details on how to bring your aquamarine vision to life. Or, check out those aquamarine drops I featured — they’re even more gorgeous on!
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.