Introducing aquamarine, the magical modern birthstone for March
All about the modern birthstone for March, aquamarine: its fascinating history, where it can be found, how to care for it and its abundant spiritual meanings.
Meet March’s birthstone: Magical Aquamarine
At Orsini we are often asked: what is the birthstone for March? Well if you’re lucky enough to be born in the third calendar month, it’s alluring aquamarine. Famed for centuries for its dreamy pure blue or blue-green colour, potentially grand size, and sparkling clarity, the aquamarine has been a valued gem to many cultures with good reason.
The word "aquamarine" is a direct reference to its eye-catching colour. It is a marriage of the two Latin words aqua, which simply means "water", and marina, which means "of the sea". As the name suggests, much of the folklore surrounding the stone is also connected to the ocean in some way.
Aquamarine is a variety of the gem species beryl, making it a close cousin of emerald, and in addition to being the birthstone for March, aquamarine is also traditionally given to commemorate a 19th wedding anniversary.
What is the history of the aquamarine stone?
There is evidence that aquamarine was used by Roman doctors to treat overeating and ailments like bloating, with medicines made from aquamarine powder also used to cure infections and allergic reactions.
Beads made of aquamarine have also been discovered buried with Egyptian mummies, and the Smithsonian Institute is home to the world’s largest cut aquamarine, the Dom Pedro—a 10,363 carat obelisk that is 14 inches long and 4 inches wide.
In 1936, the government of Brazil gave First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt a dark blue rectangular aquamarine that is now housed at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.
What is March birthstone’s colour?
Aquamarine has been famous throughout history for its clear blue shade, which often displays some green elements. The aforementioned mineral species beryl, the family to which aquamarine belongs, comes in a variety of colours including pink, green, and yellow, depending on which trace elements are present in its crystal lattice. The striking blue hue which makes aquamarine so highly treasured comes from iron.
Because the colour of the March birthstone is intensified by the size of the crystal, small aquamarine gems will often have lighter tones and saturations than larger ones. Typically, stones must weigh at least five carats to achieve the best, most intense blue and green hues.
Where is the aquamarine stone found?
The aquamarine grows in many different locations around the world. Among these are abundant deposits that can be found on the African continent in places like Mozambique, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and the famously gem-rich Madagascar. Australia and the US both have aquamarine sources, while the Pakistani aquamarine sometimes includes very dark stones. However, even with so many global deposits to draw from, Brazil is possibly the most prolific supplier of aquamarine.
What are aquamarine’s spiritual qualities?
Once again, the aquamarine is inextricably mixed with tales of the sea. Going back to Ancient Greek culture, some believed that Poseidon, God of the sea, created the aquamarine directly from seawater. Other legends claim that mermaid's tails are made of aquamarine, hence their ability to sparkle on the ocean’s surace.
Both the ancient Romans and Greeks perpetuated the belief that the ocean-coloured gem had the power to calm dangerous waves, and fishermen have long treasured the gem for bringing them luck in their efforts to collect food. This makes the gem an important token for sea travellers of any kind, with aquamarine thought to offer its owner protection in general.
Similarly, as aquamarine is thought to be able to quiet water, it is also credited with being able to soothe tempers and decrease interpersonal conflict. As negative passions are cooled by the gem, communication and trust are improved. Many continue to believe that keeping an aquamarine close will strengthen healthy marriages and, indeed, relationships of all kinds.
Do aquamarines make for good engagement rings?
Aquamarine ranks between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means that it is a relatively strong gemstone and most jewellery containing aquamarine stones can be worn regularly. Perhaps influenced by the lore which says that aquamarine encourages strong marriages and stable, loving relationships, some even choose the March birthstone as the primary stone in their engagement ring. While the gem is not as strong as diamond or sapphire, it is resilient enough to be worn every day if care is taken in some situations.
How do I care for aquamarine jewellery?
Cleaning aquamarine jewellery is easy, and can be done at home with a toothbrush and some basic household items.
Take a bowl and fill it with warm water and a few drops of the soap of your choice, placing your jewellery in the bowl and leaving it for a couple of minutes to soak. Use the toothbrush to clean the gem very gently, removing any loose dirt. Once the stone is clean, rinse it under running water, and use a cloth to pat it dry.
Make sure that the running water is lukewarm - hot water or very cold water can crack aquamarine.
How can I find the aquamarine for me?
At Orsini we love the process of helping our clients to create their dream piece of custom jewellery, especially one with their precious birthstone jewel at its heart. The process of building and shaping an idea, then turning that idea into a true masterpiece, is one that we relish at every step.
If you have an idea in mind for a piece of jewellery that you just can’t find or don’t know where to start, we’d love to meet with you and give you an insight into our process and how it can work for you. The Orsini team consists of unabashedly creative and talented jewellery designers, premium diamond graders, gemmologists and master goldsmiths, all trained to create unique pieces of jewellery through every stage of the process, with great precision and finish. We are proud of our creations and team work, and we would love to work together with you to make your dreams a reality.
Feel free to contact us at any time, or visit us instore at our elegant Parnell atelier, where we invite you to relax while we discuss the seemingly endless possibilities for your bespoke design.