oval-cut aquamarine - Braziloval-cut aquamarine - Brazil

Aquamarine Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Named after the color of sea water, aquamarine is the blue to blue-green member of the beryl family. Readily available and moderately priced, the modern March birthstone makes an excellent jewelry stone.

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HomeGemstonesAquamarine Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Named after the color of sea water, aquamarine is the blue to blue-green member of the beryl family. Readily available and moderately priced, the modern March birthstone makes an excellent jewelry stone.

oval-cut aquamarine - Brazil
Oval-cut aquamarine, 5.36 cts, 19 x 10 mm, Brazil. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

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Aquamarine Value

custom aquamarine ring
A custom-designed, beautiful, bold ring with a 10 x 8 mm precision-cut radiant aquamarine, vintage detailing, and wide, multi-strand band. Photo by CustomMade. Used with permission.

Since aquamarines are available in large sizes, there’s no incremental increase in price per carat for large gems. In fact, cut aquamarines over 25 carats will have a lower price per carat than smaller stones of the same quality. Setting and wearing stones of that size can be difficult, so there’s less demand for them.

Aquamarine prices depend on depth and purity of color and clarity.

For more detailed information on aquamarine quality factors, consult our aquamarine buying guide.

custom aquamarine, sapphire, and pearl ring
This unusual arrangement brings together princess-cut aquamarines, marquise sapphires, and seed pearls to create a one-of-a-kind ring. 3 and 4 mm aquamarines, 2.25 x 4.25 and 1.5 x 3 mm blue sapphires, and 1 and 1.25 mm cultured seed pearls arranged in a faux-cushion three-stone setting. Photo by CustomMade. Used with permission.
aquamarine on mica
Aquamarine on mica matrix. Photo by Géry Parent. Copyright free use.

What is the Color of Aquamarine?

This beautiful gem receives its coloring from trace amounts of ferrous iron. Its hues range can range from blueish green, blue-green, greenish blue, to deep blue, and its tones can vary from very light to moderately dark. You'll rarely see aquamarines darker than a Swiss blue topaz. When you do, the color is usually enhanced by the cut.

You might encounter gemstones sold as "white aquamarines." Be aware that such stones are most likely colorless beryls, also known as goshenites.

What Does Aquamarine Symbolize?

In Western cultures, due to aquamarine's color and name, this gem has a folklore strongly connected to the sea. Its mystical purview traditionally includes protection for sailors and fishermen as well as travelers in general.

Faberge aquamarine brooch
Fabergé brooch, 1908-1917, gold and silver with aquamarine, diamonds, and topaz. Photo by Shakko. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Gem Cutting Recommendations

When cutting aquamarine, the primary consideration should be depth of color. Deep designs, like Barions and emerald cuts, are usually preferred. Faceters should use 43° pavilion mains on aquamarine for the highest brilliance. Low crown angles will produce higher brilliance, but higher crowns are often used to deepen the color.

Aquamarine, Brazil (25.65). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

The beryl family, including aquamarines, are some of the easiest gems to polish. Diamond polish is the most common method. A high-quality polish can give light aquamarines such great brilliance they might be confused with higher refractive index (RI) gems. Even with a moderate dispersion of 0.014, light stones with high crown angles will show their spectral colors well. This makes for an outstanding gemstone.

While the highest values go to the richer colors, a well-cut light aquamarine can be one of the most spectacular examples of gem faceting in the world.

Two gem cut designs by Jeff Graham, "Signature #4" and "Blue Ice," work particularly well for aquamarines.

  • aquamarine rough and cut - 01
  • aquamarine rough and cut set - 02
  • aquamarine rough and cut set - 03
  • aquamarine rough and cut set - 04

    Three-piece aquamarine rough and cut set  from Pakistan. Crystal specimen, 9.7 x 5.0 x 3.8 cm; Portuguese round brilliant cut, 18.47 mm and 32.65 cts; Cat's eye round cabochon, 10.66 mm and 4.81 cts. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

    What Inclusions do Aquamarines Contain?

    Inclusions are interesting features of this gemstone. Beryl, and aquamarine in particular, are known for having long, hollow tubes. This distinctive feature can help identify a gem as a member of the beryl family.

    Aquamarines may have transparent and metallic inclusions, such as biotite, hematite, ilmenite, phlogopite, pyrite, and  rutile in skeletal crystals. They may also contain crystals of apatite, cassiterite, epidote, garnet, muscovite; quartz, and tourmaline. Some stones contain "snow-stars," irregularly shaped liquid droplets in a star formation. The Martha Rocha aquamarine has notable "snow-star" inclusions.

    aquamarine with tourmaline inclusion
    This polished aquamarine specimen contains a full, doubly terminated tourmaline inside it. 4.4 x 2.8 x 2.0 cm. Virgem De Lapa, Minas Gerais, Brazil. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

    Aquamarine Cat's Eyes and Star Stones

    With enough hollow tube inclusions and proper cutting, aquamarines can show chatoyancy and even asterism. Collectors prize beautiful cat's eye aquamarines very highly, and their prices come very close to that of clean, faceted gems with the same coloring. Star aquamarines are even more rare than cat's eyes and can command premium prices.

    Cat's eye Aquamarine - Brazil
    Aquamarine cat's eye, Brazil (18.37). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Are There Lab-Created Aquamarines?

    Aquamarines can be synthesized, and an examination under a microscope may find some indications of synthetic origin. However, professional gem labs have advanced instruments that can distinguish natural from created aquamarines.

    Are Aquamarine Gemstones Enhanced?

    Most aquamarines come out of the ground with a greenish tint, but this will disappear after heating to 375° C, which leaves a pure blue color. Removing aquamarine's green tinting through heat treatment is very common. In the past, this was done routinely. Nowadays, a more sophisticated public has started appreciating slightly green, untreated aquamarines. However, distinguishing this heating process proves impossible. Therefore, gem graders should describe any pure blue aquamarines as "probably heat treated."

    Aquamarine Rough
    Aquamarine rough

    What is Maxixe Aquamarine?

    In the 1970s, Maxixe (pronounced mah-SHE-she), a very dark blue aquamarine, appeared on the market, but the color of this irradiated product wasn't stable. Although these stones have mostly disappeared from the market, if you're ever offered a very deep blue aquamarine, buyer beware.

    You can distinguish the Maxixe from a natural aquamarine by its lack of pleochroism. Natural aquamarines have distinct blue and colorless dichroism. On the other hand, the Maxixe has no pleochroism. When viewed from any angle, it just shows blue. The absorption spectrum of natural aquamarine and the Maxixe also differs. With a spectroscope, you'll see a narrow line at 6950, a strong line at 6540, and weak lines at 6280, 6150, 5500, and 5810. This differs considerably from natural aquamarine's spectrum, with a broad band at 4270 and a diffuse band at 4560.

    You can also distinguish a Maxixe aquamarine from a natural stone with a dichroscope. Both windows remain blue when viewing a Maxixe. In contrast, one window should be colorless or pale yellowish when viewing an untreated specimen.

    Where are Aquamarine Gemstones Found?

    Brazil is the world's major source of fine aquamarine gems. Localities include Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, and others.

    Madagascar has more than 50 specific localities that produce fine, blue gem material.

    Other notable sources include the following:

    • United States: San Diego County, California (not much gem material); Mt. Antero, Colorado; Connecticut (some gem); Maine; North Carolina.
    aquamarine crystal - California
    Aquamarine crystal, 4.8 x 4.7 x 4.0 cm. Katerina Mine, Pala District, San Diego Co., California, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
    • Australia: Mt. Surprise, North Queensland (small).
    • India: Karur, Madras, and Kashmir (medium blue color).
    • Namibia: Rossing (in pegmatites).
    • Nigeria: Jos (abundant material, some fine color).
    aquamarines - Nigeria
    Aquamarines, Nigeria (3.10, 7.82, 2.81). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
    • Russia: Mursinsk mine (and other localities).
    • Afghanistan; China; Mozambique; Myanmar; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Vietnam; Zimbabwe.
    unique crystal - Afganistan
    Uniquely terminated aquamarine crystal from Afghanistan. © All That Glitters. Used with permission. (Right photo enlarged to show detail).

    How Large Can Aquamarines Get?

    You'll find aquamarines available in a remarkable range of sizes, and lapidaries have cut gems that weigh several hundred carats, much too large to be worn. Beryl crystals weighing many tons have been found in pegmatites, but these are never of gem quality. However, aquamarines may be very large and still be gem quality.

    A blue-green crystal was found in Marambia, Teofilo Otoni, Brazil. This irregular prism, transparent end to end, measured 19 inches long and 16 inches across and weighed almost 243 pounds.

    The famous Martha Rocha aquamarine, found in Brazil, weighed 134 pounds and yielded more than 300,000 carats of superb blue gems. An even larger crystal found in 1910 weighed 229 pounds but yielded only 200,000 carats of cut gems.

    The Smithsonian Institutions holds the world's largest cut aquamarine, the Dom Pedro, a 10,363-ct carved obelisk.

    • British Museum (Natural History) (London England): 67.35 (blue) and 60.90 (greenish); 879 (sea-green, oval).
    • American Museum of Natural History (New York): 272, 215, and 160; also 355 (Sri Lanka), 144.5 (Brazil).
    • Hyde Park Museum, New York: 1847 carats.
    • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 1,000 (blue-green, fine color, Brazil); 911 (blue, Brazil); also 263.5 (blue, Russia); 71.2 (pale blue, Sri Lanka); 66.3 (pale blue-green, Maine); 20.7 (pale blue, Madagascar); 15.3 (blue-green, Idaho); 14.3 (blue, Connecticut).

    Aquamarine Trade Names

    • Brazilian aquamarine: blueish green. Also a misnomer for blueish green topaz.
    • Madagascar aquamarine: fine, medium blue.
    • Maxixe beryl: treated beryl with excellent aquamarine blue, known for fading. Also called halbanite.
    • Santa Maria aquamarine: medium-dark tone and highly saturated blue color.

    Don't assume aquamarines billed as "Brazilian" or "Madagascar" actually come from these sources. These terms may only refer to the color, so ask to see documentation to certify a gem's origin. "Santa Maria" aquamarines are named after the Santa Maria de Itabira mine where they were first discovered, but stones with similar colors have also been found in other locations.

    How to Care for Your Aquamarine Jewelry

    Although aquamarines require no special care and can resist scratching from everyday wear very well, cut-corner designs and protective settings can still help them resist chipping and breaking.

    However, inclusions within aquamarines may not react well to mechanical cleaning techniques like ultrasound or steam, increasing the risk of shattering. Therefore, consult with a gemologist first to determine if your gems can withstand these cleaning methods. Of course, you can always use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water to clean your aquamarines safely. Consult our gemstone jewelry care guide for more recommendations.

    Aquamarine at sunset on paper, photo by Verena Engel. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

    Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

    Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

    Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com

    Donald Clark, CSM IMG

    The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”

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