Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March's Birthstone, Aquamarine

Aquamarine is the birthstone for March. Its name comes from the Latin "aqua," meaning water, and "mare," meaning sea. Aquamarines are available in the pale blues, pale blue-greens, and pale greens. This stone is usually clear, and the iron content of the stone gives it its green color. In the past, green aquamarines were highly valued. Now it is the bluer shades of the stone that are prized. Depending on how you look at the stone, you may see shades of blue so pale it looks colorless. Almost all aquamarines available to consumers have been heat treated to deepen the blue color and get rid of the green color. These gemstones are almost entirely free of inclusions.

An aquamarine is a very hard stone, ranging on the Mohs scale at 7.5 to 8. The hardness of the stone makes it more durable and less likely to scratch.

The best way to clean an aquamarine is with warm, soapy water and an old toothbrush. Be sure to rinse the soap away thoroughly. Be sure to use warm water and not hot. The extreme in temperature for aquamarines, and many other gemstones, can damage the stone. It is best to avoid harsh chemicals and household detergents. An ultrasonic cleaner is also not advisable.

The best quality aquamarines come from Brazil. There stones weighing up to several kilos have been found. Other areas include Nigeria, Zambia, Madagascar, the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and the United States.

In ancient times, the aquamarine was regarded as a sailor's lucky stone. The Egyptians and Sumerians believed it was a symbol of happiness and everlasting youth. According to folklore, the aquamarine would bring victory in battle and legal disputes. It was also considered an especially effective cure for problems with the jaw, throat, stomach and toothaches. During the Middle Ages, the aquamarine was considered a very popular oracle, and when cut into the shape of a crystal ball, could help predict the future.

According to old traditions, the wearer of an aquamarine was promised a happy marriage. Aquamarine is also considered the anniversary stone for the 19th year of marriage.

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