BERYL (var. AQUAMARINE)
HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Aquamarine, which has been known since antiquity, was recognized as a variety of beryl in 1797. The name “aquamarine,” pronounced ahh-kwa-mar-REEN, stems from the Latin aqua marina, literally meaning “sea water,” in allusion to its blue and greenish-blue colors. Important collecting localities are in Namibia, Brazil, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Russia, Madagascar, Malawi, and the United States (Colorado, Maine, California).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Aquamarine crystallizes in the hexagonal system as well-developed, six-sided, transparent-to-translucent prisms. It has a blue-to-greenish-blue color, a vitreous luster, a Mohs hardness of 7.5-8.0, and a specific gravity of 2.6-2.9. It occurs primarily in granite pegmatites in association with such minerals as albite, quartz, and muscovite.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Aquamarine has served as a gemstone since medieval times. Because of its blue colors, aquamarine acquired much superstitious lore that was connected to the sea, especially the belief that it could protect sailors on their voyages. Aquamarine remains a popular gemstone today and is usually faceted into classic square, rectangular, and round gems of one to ten carats. According to modern metaphysical practitioners, aquamarine provides foresight and courage; enhances happiness, intelligence, and youthful qualities; and alleviates anxiety-related stress. Aquamarine has no technological uses.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Aquamarine is valued by collectors because it is an uncommon variety of beryl, and also for its pleasing blue colors, well-developed crystals, and occurrence in attractive composite specimens with other pegmatite minerals.