The Meaning and History of Aquamarine
Aquamarine is the birthstone for the month of March. The seawater color of aquamarine has given this gemstone its name as the name “aquamarine” is derived from the Latin word for seawater. The specific term “aquamarine” was apparently used in an important gemological work by Anselmus de Boodt in his Gemmarum et Lapidum Historiia,” published in 1609. Aquamarine is a valued gem of ancient lineage. In the 19th century, sea green varieties of the stone were the most popular, but today, the bluer the color, the more valuable the stone. In 1910, the largest ever aquamarine was found in Brazil, weighing 243 pounds. It was then cut into smaller stones, yielding over 200,000 carats.
There are many myths and legends about the aquamarine stone. The Romans believed that if the figure of a frog were carved on an aquamarine, it served to reconcile enemies and make them friends. Another Roman legend stated that the stone absorbs the atmosphere of young love: “When blessed and worn, it joins in love, and does great things.” Aquamarine was also considered the most appropriate morning gift to give to a bride by her groom following the consummation of their marriage. The Greeks and the Romans knew the aquamarine as the sailor’s gem, ensuring the safe and prosperous passage across stormy seas. In Medieval times, the stone was thought to reawaken the love of married couples. It was also believed to render soldiers invincible.
The Sumerians, Egyptians, and Hebrews also admired and valued aquamarine greatly. It was a symbol of happiness and everlasting youth. In the Christian era, the aquamarine was identified with the Apostle, St. Thomas, because it “imitated the sea and the air” and the Saint “made long journeys by sea, even to India, to preach salvation.” Identifying a certain jewel with one of the twelve apostles was a common practice at that time. William Langland’s “The Vision Concerning Piers and the Plowman,” from 1377, mentions the aquamarine as an antidote for poison. This antidote was widely known throughout Europe. Because there was a wide amount of poisonings amongst royalty at the time, the gem was in popular demand just for that purpose. It was not necessary to pulverize the stone, as it was/ is with other gemstones. Simply wearing the stone as a pendant or in a ring was just as effective.
Writers of the Middle Ages claimed aquamarine was the most popular and effective of the “oracle” crystals. When cut as a crystal ball, it was thought to be a superior stone for fortune telling. Many methods of using the stone as a divining tool were described in the ancient literature. One method involved hanging a stone by a thread over a bowl of water, just touching the surface. The inner edge of the bowl was covered with the characters of the alphabet. The diviner was to hold the top of the thread and allow the stone to hit certain letters, which would spell out answers to an important question, sort of like an ouija board. Another method was to cast a crystal into a bowl of pure water. The disturbances in the water would reveal messages on the surface of the liquid. Aquamarine’s powers of revelation were also said to help one in search for lost or hidden things.
According to folklore, aquamarine would bring victory in battles and legal disputes. The gem was also credited with curing belching and yawning and was considered especially effective for curing ailments of the jaws, throat, stomach, liver and toothaches. Aquamarine was also used in ceremonies in the belief that it would bring rain when needed, or visit drought upon their enemies. When worn as an amulet, it was believed to bring relief of pain and to make the wearer friendlier, quicken the intellect and cure laziness. The ancient philosopher Pliny paid tribute to this gem of vitality, stating, “the lovely aquamarine, which seems to have come from some mermaid’s treasure house, in the depths of a summer sea, has charms not to be denied.”
Mystical Powers of Aquamarine
In Ancient, as well as Modern times, the aquamarine is said to have countless positive effects on the wearer. The attributes of aquamarine were first recorded by Damigeron in the second century BC. “This stone is good besides for damage to the eyes, and for all sickness, if it is put in water and given as a drink.” Pliny the Elder’s Natural History also lists the stone as an excellent cure for eye diseases. The eye was supposed to be washed in water in which an aquamarine was immersed. To cure serious eye ailments, it was recommended to place the powder of the gem in the eyes each morning. Ancient Romans believed aquamarine would be useful in curing illnesses of the stomach, liver, jaws, and throat. Today, modern healers believe that the aquamarine stone aids in fluid retention, a further association with the water aspects of aquamarine. Modern healers also believe the stone will help deal with glandular disorders, as well as aiding in maintaining the health of your eyes, as the Ancient healers believed. Some consider the stone specific for treating most afflictions associated with the oral cavity. It is associated with the throat chakra, including the faculties of speech and singing, a quality perhaps associated with the therapeutic value of the color, rather than of the actual composition of the stone.
There are also many beliefs that regard aquamarine as a healing stone for mental afflictions as well as physical. The stone is considered an “all-purpose” healing stone as it treats spiritual and psychological disturbances as well as physiological disorders and disease. Aquamarine is used in conjunction with the Hanged Man card of the Tarot, helping people understand the value of suspending activities in life in order to seek solitude and time for contemplation. It helps one be better in communion with an inner tranquility and is known for its ability to calm nervous tension as it is calming and soothing. Aquamarine is a wonderful stone for meditation as it quiets the mind and facilitates obtaining communication from higher planes. Clearing extra thoughts, it invokes a high state of consciousness and spiritual awareness and encourages dispassionate service to humanity. If the spiritual and physical bodies have become misaligned, aquamarine gently realigns them, releasing intuitive communication on all levels.
Working with the stone improves one’s overall sense of well-being. Some suggest that aquamarine is used to treat people for whom procrastination is an affliction. It is believed that one who wears aquamarine has a better ability to think clearly and make quick decisions. In addition, it increases one’s access to courage. It promotes motivation and comforts in times of intense physical and emotional release while supporting one through the process. The stone aids a life of service, shields and protects, reminds us of love and caring through times of change and in one’s life and path and purpose. It aids in promoting spiritual and psychic awareness, brings about core soul repair and healing, aids soul retrieval, and heals deeply at all levels. It is used spiritually to bring purification to one’s entire being, as it allows the inner self to better pursue one’s Highest Ideals, keeping attachments to the mundane world in perspective. In addition to its remedial values, it is an excellent stone with which to make changes in your life, holding more true to your inner, spiritual self, and helping yourself remain calm and purified of your own self-polluting behavioral patterns.
Aquamarine refers to beryl that is pale blue, light blue-green, or even light green. It is usually clear, but iron content gives it its blue/green color. The green of aquamarine is a watery green without any traces of yellow. In the past, the most valued aquamarine stones were green. Today, however, the most valued aquamarine stones are a rich, sky blue, but even the blue stones have a green or bluish green tint to them. Depending on which angle you look at an aquamarine, it may look blue, green, or colorless. This is called a pleochroic effect. A varied display of aquamarines is like seeing the many colors of oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water around the world. Every aquamarine recalls a hue of some body of water you have enjoyed. Almost all aquamarines on the market have been heating treated to enhance the color. In meeting with the consumer preference for aquamarines in deep blue, the stones are heated near 800 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes the blue color to emerge and the yellow/green tones to disappear. The light color tone of the aquamarine flatters all skin colors and harmonizes with all precious metals. Many aquamarine stones are virtually free of inclusions and their luster is vitreous.
Aquamarine is commonly found in cavities, granite pegmatite, alluvial deposits of gravel and sometimes stream gravels. Beryl crystals in some pegmatite grow to very large sizes, even up to 30 feet. Aquamarine crystals of up to 3 feet are actually not uncommon. The best quality stones are fromBrazil, where crystals weighing several kilos have been found. Other places aquamarine is found are the Soviet Union, Madagascar (where a dark blue variety is found), the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nigeria.
The most common cut for an aquamarine is the emerald type, followed by oval or pear-shaped cuts. It is a relatively easy stone to cut and is often found in innovative shapes, as cutters experiment with new forms. It rates a 7.5 to 8 on the hardness scale, making it quite a durable stone to wear. Large aquamarine stones, ranging from several carats to more than ten carats are relatively common. Rich blue stones that are several karats in weight are extremely valuable. Occasionally, aquamarines are found in large enough places to yield finished gemstones in the 1000 plus carat range. What is great about the gemstone is that the wide price range makes it available to almost anyone.
Caring for your Aquamarine Jewelry
The best way to clean your aquamarine jewelry is with plain, warm soapy water (using mild liquid soap) and an old toothbrush. Once you have washed the stone, make sure you rinse it off well with plain water. Be careful to use warm water instead of hot water, to reduce the dangers of thermal shock. Enzyme cleaners and detergent should be avoided for they can cause allergic reactions. It is also not advisable to clean aquamarine in an ultrasonic tank. Avoid sudden temperature changes, steaming, and contact with cosmetics, hairspray, perfume or household chemicals.