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Aquamarine

Click HERE to shop aquamarine, or scroll to the bottom of the article. 

Aquamarine – one of the birthstones whose name conjures up a color, light greenish-blue, the color of ocean water with the sun on it – hence, aqua marina, Latin for water of the sea. Aquamarine is the traditional birthstone associated with March and the gemstone of the 19th wedding anniversary.

It is one of the beryl group of minerals, that includes emerald (deep green), morganite (pale pink) and heliodor (golden yellow).

  • Formula: Be3Al2Si6O18
  • Classification: cyclosilicate (6 membered ring)
  • Member of the Beryl Group
  • Crystal system: hexagonal
  • Color: sky-blue to sea-green
  • Streak: colorless (harder than streak plate)
  • Luster: Vitreous, Sub-Vitreous, Waxy, Greasy
  • Diaphaneity: translucent to transparent
  • Cleavage: none
  • Fracture: conchoidal
  • Mohs scale hardness: 7.5 - 8
  • Specific gravity: 2.63 – 2.92

The blue coloration is attributed to iron ions within the crystal lattice.  The presence of both Fe 2+ and Fe 3+ ions appear to be required for the blue color.  

Mineralogy and Geological Occurrence

The color comes from the presence of both Fe 2+ and Fe 3+ in the crystal lattice; quantitites and proportions of the two ions influences the shade of blue-green. Since the deeper blue shades of aquamarine are more valued, many gemstones have been heat-treated to reduce the green shades. The color of heat-treated aquamarines may fade when exposed to sunlight. The habits (external morphology) of aquamarine crystals ranges from acicular (needle-like) to prismatic or tabular habits. Most gem-quality aquamarine crystals formed in cavities in their host pegmatite material, often associated with muscovite and feldspar.

For beautiful photographs and more information about world-wide locations for aquamarine from mindat.org, click HERE

Aquamarine has been found on every continent except Antarctica. In the United States, gem quality aquamarine has been collected from Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. Less valuable aquamarine is reported from many other states, including New Mexico.

New Mexico Beryl and Aquamarine

The mineral group beryl has widespread occurrence in New Mexico; it is reported from 11 counties, mostly occurring in pegmatites. Some of these occurrences include the blue variety of beryl, aquamarine. These occurrences are part of the Arizona-New Mexico “beryllium belt”, of note due to the strategic importance of beryllium mining.

Bernalillo County – Sandia Mountains
Cibola County – probable aquamarines in rhyolite from East Grants Ridge
Grant County – Fierro-Hanover district (Philadelphia mine)
Luna County – Victorio district
Mora County – Rociada district pidlite
Rio Arriba County – Ojo Caliente districts 1, 6, and 7; Petaca district, various deposits were mined for beryl producing thousands of tons, with crystals up to 8 feet long reported in some locales.
San Miguel County – El Porvenir and Tecolote districts.
Santa Fe County – Nambe district (one 5 foot long aquamarine crystal reported from the Rocking Chair No. 2 claim)
Sierra County – Black Tin Range (red beryl, known as bixbite) and Iron Mountain No. 2 districts (blue crystals)
Taos County – Harding Mine – major source of beryllium, not necessarily aquamarine; and Picuris district

Aquamarine Trivia
- The largest gem-quality aquamarine crystal mined to date was found in Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil in 1910 - weighing 110 kg (240 lbs), 48.5 cm (19 in) long and 42cm (17 in) in diameter.  
- The largest cut aquamarine is the Dom Pedro aquamarine (also from Minas Gerais) weighing 10,363 carats (4.6 lbs) and is housed in the Smithsonian.
- The Roosevelt Aquamarine was given to Eleanor Rooselvelt in 1936 when they visited Brazil. At the time this 1298 carat stone was largest cut aquamarine known. It is housed in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.
- For a fun article on six famous aquamarines, click HERE.
Some of the British royals favor aquamarine – click HERE for a fun piece featuring Queen Elizabeth, Diana Princess of Wales, and the Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle).

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