In the last thirty years, aquamarine has developed a somewhat generic reputation for being washed out, uninteresting, or not living up to its name. And while the majority of commercial-grade aqua certainly fits such a description perfectly, I prefer to set the bar a little higher. My sales staff will gladly show you the difference between fine aquamarine and that other stuff you saw at the mall, which will hopefully help to foster an appreciation for just how true-blue aquamarine can be.
When searching for fine aquamarine, remember the bluer the better. Bear in mind, however, that a large portion of aquamarine of considerable blue saturation has been heat-treated to reduce green tones, which are commonly prevalent in natural material. That’s not to say aquamarine doesn’t naturally occur in those striking blue tones; you’ll just have to pay a premium for it because of its rarity.
Be sure to look for eye-clean stones at the very least. Aquamarine is often completely clean, so any visible inclusions will usually translate to a lower price. Aquamarine is the primary birthstone for March, so if your search revolves around that hub, aqua is a great direction to go.
On a more technical note, aquamarine is member of the beryl family, making it a cousin of emerald, morganite, and heliodor. As a beryl, it has fairly robust physical properties, although like all beryls, it is susceptible to high heat. Heated aqua is also sensitive to prolonged exposure to intense light; it can make the color fade. So if you keep your jewelry on the windowsill, or you like to sunbathe with your jewelry on, you might want to reconsider. But like all beryls, a well-cut aquamarine – heated or not – just shines like few other gems can.
Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe, but be aware of the types of inclusions in your particular stone. While it’s an unusual find in fine aquamarine, certain kinds of inclusions that are common in beryls can expand or rupture when subjected to thermal shock (like ultrasonic and steam cleaning), which can damage or destroy a stone. If you’re worried about it, bring it in to the store for a complimentary clean and check. Our GIA-certified Graduate Gemologist can also take a peek at it under the microscope and determine whether or not your aquamarine requires any special care.