Home Aquamarine How Does Aquamarine Work?

How Does Aquamarine Work?

by Madonna

Aquamarine, a gemstone known for its captivating blue-green hue, has fascinated people for centuries. This beautiful mineral, often associated with the serenity of the sea, holds significant cultural, historical, and scientific importance. But how exactly does aquamarine work in terms of its formation, properties, and uses? This article delves into the geological processes behind its creation, its unique physical and chemical properties, and its various applications in jewelry and beyond.

The Formation of Aquamarine

Geological Origins

Aquamarine is a variety of the mineral beryl, which is composed of beryllium aluminum cyclosilicate. It forms in igneous and metamorphic rocks, particularly granite and pegmatite. The process begins deep within the Earth’s crust, where heat and pressure cause minerals to crystallize. For aquamarine to form, specific conditions must be met:


Presence of Beryllium: Beryllium is a rare element, and its availability is crucial for the formation of beryl.


Aluminum and Silicon: These elements, along with beryllium, form the cyclosilicate structure of beryl.


Iron: The trace amounts of iron give aquamarine its distinctive blue-green color.

Crystal Growth

As magma cools, beryllium, aluminum, silicon, and iron atoms bond together to form the hexagonal crystals characteristic of beryl. The slow cooling process in pegmatite veins allows for the growth of large, well-formed crystals. These conditions are relatively rare, making high-quality aquamarine gemstones quite valuable.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Color and Clarity

The most striking feature of aquamarine is its color, which ranges from pale blue to deep blue-green. The color intensity depends on the concentration of iron within the crystal lattice. Higher iron content typically results in deeper blue hues. Clarity is another essential factor in determining the value of aquamarine. The best specimens are eye-clean, meaning they lack visible inclusions.

Hardness and Durability

Aquamarine has a Mohs hardness rating of 7.5 to 8, making it relatively hard and suitable for use in various types of jewelry. Its durability means it can withstand everyday wear, although it should still be protected from sharp blows and extreme temperature changes.

Crystal Structure

Aquamarine crystals are hexagonal, often forming elongated prismatic shapes. This structure contributes to their unique optical properties, such as pleochroism, where the stone appears different colors when viewed from different angles. For aquamarine, this typically means varying shades of blue and green.

Aquamarine in History and Culture

Ancient Beliefs and Uses

Aquamarine has been cherished since ancient times. The Romans believed it could protect sailors and ensure a safe voyage, hence its association with the sea. They also thought it could heal ailments related to the throat and stomach. In medieval times, aquamarine was used to rekindle the love between married couples, believed to reawaken the feelings of young love.

Modern Symbolism

Today, aquamarine is the birthstone for March and is often given as a gift on the 19th wedding anniversary. It symbolizes calmness, clarity, and harmony, resonating with its serene blue-green color. In the realm of alternative healing, some people believe aquamarine can reduce stress and calm the mind.

The Science Behind Aquamarine

Optical Properties

One of the most fascinating aspects of aquamarine is its optical properties. The stone’s color can be attributed to the presence of Fe2+ and Fe3+ ions. Fe2+ ions primarily cause the blue color, while Fe3+ ions can contribute to a greener hue. When light interacts with these ions, it absorbs specific wavelengths, resulting in the blue-green color we see.


Aquamarine exhibits pleochroism, meaning it can show different colors when viewed from different directions. This property is due to the anisotropic nature of its crystal structure. When light enters the crystal, it splits into two polarized rays traveling at different speeds, each being absorbed differently. This causes the stone to appear blue from one angle and greenish-blue from another.


Under ultraviolet light, some aquamarine stones exhibit luminescence, glowing with a soft white or pale blue light. This phenomenon occurs because of trace elements or impurities within the crystal. Luminescence can sometimes help gemologists identify aquamarine and distinguish it from similar gemstones.

Uses of Aquamarine


Aquamarine’s stunning color and clarity make it a popular choice for various types of jewelry, including rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Its hardness and durability ensure it can be crafted into intricate designs and withstand regular wear. Jewelers often cut aquamarine into emerald cuts, ovals, and other faceted shapes to maximize its brilliance and color.

Industrial Applications

While aquamarine’s primary use is in jewelry, it also has some industrial applications. Beryl, the mineral family to which aquamarine belongs, is a source of beryllium. Beryllium is a critical component in aerospace materials, telecommunications, and electronic devices due to its lightweight and strong properties.

Metaphysical Uses

In the realm of metaphysical healing, aquamarine is believed to have numerous benefits. Practitioners use it to enhance communication, reduce stress, and promote mental clarity. It’s often used in meditation practices to bring about a sense of calm and focus.

See Also: Is Aquamarine Too Soft for an Engagement Ring?

How to Care for Aquamarine


To maintain the beauty of aquamarine jewelry, proper cleaning is essential. Use warm soapy water and a soft brush to clean the stone gently. Avoid harsh chemicals and ultrasonic cleaners, as they can damage the stone or its setting.


Store aquamarine jewelry separately from other gemstones to prevent scratches. Keeping it in a soft pouch or lined jewelry box is ideal. Avoid exposing aquamarine to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight for prolonged periods, as this can cause the color to fade.

Identifying Genuine Aquamarine

Common Treatments

Aquamarine is often heat-treated to enhance its color. This process involves heating the stone to high temperatures to reduce greenish hues, resulting in a more desirable blue color. While this treatment is widely accepted in the gemstone industry, it’s essential for buyers to be aware of it.

Synthetic and Imitation Stones

Synthetic aquamarine, created in laboratories, shares the same chemical and physical properties as natural aquamarine. Imitation stones, such as blue glass or synthetic spinel, can also resemble aquamarine. To ensure authenticity, it’s advisable to buy from reputable dealers and, if necessary, seek certification from a gemological laboratory.


Aquamarine’s allure goes beyond its stunning appearance. Its formation deep within the Earth’s crust, unique physical and optical properties, and rich historical and cultural significance make it a gemstone worth appreciating. Whether set in a piece of jewelry, used for industrial purposes, or valued for its metaphysical properties, aquamarine continues to captivate and inspire. Understanding how aquamarine works not only enhances our appreciation of this beautiful gem but also connects us to the fascinating geological processes that create such natural wonders.


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