Aquamarine is the name used for the mineral beryl within the colour range of a very light hue of greenish blue to a vibrant blue. In Latin “aqua marina” means seawater, which hints at the gemstone’s fascinating colour.
The aquamarine has a long and glorious history that goes back to the ancient Egyptians. Many stories and legends are connected to this radiant blue gemstone and have played their part in making it one of the most sought-after gems in the world today.
In early history
Pliny the Elder, the famous historian, was the first to document the existence of aquamarines, while the historical finds of aquamarine can be traced back furthest into the past are beads discovered in the tombs of ancient mummies. Believed to be a source of eternal youth, aquamarines were highly praised for their beauty by the ancient Egyptians and were used as amulets, talismans, and beads in necklaces.
The Legend behind
The Sailor's Gem
The most famous legend about the aquamarine emerged from Greek and Roman folklore. The mermaids allegedly guarded the bright blue stones as their treasure, and it is said that we now have the aquamarine because it fell from their treasure chest. Because the aquamarine was of such importance to the mermaids, sailors carrying the stone would be granted the mermaids' protection during their journey at sea. As a result, the aquamarine was given the moniker Sailor's Gem.
Ancient Greeks &
Another set of beliefs shared between the ancient Romans and the Greeks, was that aquamarine was connected to the god of the oceans, Poseidon and Neptune respectively. Some said that the jewel even had the ability to calm stormy waters and protect the sailors who carried it, not because of the mermaids but because throwing it into the sea during a storm could appease their god of the sea.
The largest cut aquamarine
The current world record holder for the largest cut aquamarine was discovered in the famous Minas Gerais mines of Brazil. The fascinating gemstone weighed 45kg and was over a metre long. It took more than 6 months to cut and now shines as a 10'363 carat fantasy-cut obelisk. In 2011, the Dom Pedro was donated to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, where it can be admired by the public.
Chatoyant & Asterism
An aquamarine resembling a cat's eye was first reported in India in the early sixth century. It is a rare and remarkable effect that, when viewed at the right angle, reveals a radiant band of light across the stone. This effect is due to the inclusion of microscopic rods, which give the stone a cloudy, milky appearance. An even rarer occurrence is an aquamarine with asterism, which produces a starry effect when light falls on it. A rare beauty, distinct from the more commonly known clear blue aquamarine.