Home Aquamarine How Fragile is Aquamarine: The Vulnerability of a Gem

How Fragile is Aquamarine: The Vulnerability of a Gem

by Madonna

Aquamarine, with its ethereal blue hues reminiscent of the tranquil sea, has captivated human beings for centuries. This stunning gemstone, a variety of beryl, has adorned the jewelry boxes of countless individuals, finding its place in rings, necklaces, and earrings. While aquamarine’s beauty is unquestionable, its fragility often goes underestimated. In this article, we will explore the world of aquamarine, its geological origins, properties, and the factors that make it delicate. We will also delve into the best practices for handling, caring, and preserving this mesmerizing gem.

The Allure of Aquamarine

Before we dive into the vulnerability of aquamarine, let us first appreciate its allure. Aquamarine is known for its exquisite blue or blue-green coloration, which evokes the calmness and serenity of the ocean. The name “aquamarine” itself is derived from the Latin words “aqua” and “marina,” meaning “water” and “of the sea,” respectively, perfectly encapsulating the gem’s aesthetic.


This gemstone has a long history dating back to ancient times. It was cherished by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for its supposed mystical properties and its association with water and the sea. The belief in its protective qualities even led sailors to carry aquamarine talismans to ensure safe voyages across treacherous waters.


Aquamarine is a variety of the mineral beryl, which also includes emerald. Its color range varies from pale blue to deep blue-green, with the most prized aquamarines exhibiting a vibrant, deep blue hue. Its beauty, coupled with a relatively moderate price compared to other precious gemstones, makes it a popular choice in fine jewelry.


See Also: Determining the Best Aquamarine: A Full Guide

The Geological Origins of Aquamarine

To understand the fragility of aquamarine, it is essential to grasp its geological origins. Aquamarine forms primarily in granite pegmatites, which are igneous rocks characterized by their large crystal size. These pegmatites often occur in mountainous regions where intense geological activity has taken place over millions of years.

The formation of aquamarine begins with the presence of beryl in these pegmatites. Beryl is composed of beryllium aluminum cyclosilicate and can be colorless or exhibit various colors depending on the presence of impurities. In the case of aquamarine, the blue or blue-green coloration is the result of trace amounts of iron impurities within the beryl structure.

The growth of aquamarine crystals within these pegmatites is a slow and intricate process. Crystals form as a result of the cooling and solidification of mineral-rich fluids that infiltrate the rocks. Over eons, the beryl crystals gradually grow in size, and aquamarine’s characteristic color develops during this period.

The Vulnerability of Aquamarine

While aquamarine’s geological origins are fascinating, they also contribute to its vulnerability. The following factors make aquamarine relatively fragile compared to other gemstones:

1. Cleavage

Cleavage refers to the way a mineral breaks along specific planes due to the arrangement of its atoms. In the case of aquamarine, it has distinct cleavage planes that run parallel to the length of its hexagonal crystal structure. This means that if external force is applied in the right direction, aquamarine can easily split into flat pieces.

2. Hardness

The hardness of a mineral is measured on the Mohs scale, which ranges from 1 (the softest) to 10 (the hardest). Aquamarine registers a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, which makes it relatively hard compared to most gemstones. However, it is softer than diamonds and even some other colored gemstones like sapphires and rubies. This means that while aquamarine can resist scratching to some extent, it can still be susceptible to abrasion and damage.

3. Brittle Nature

Aquamarine, like many gemstones, has a brittle nature. This means that it can be prone to chipping, cracking, or fracturing when subjected to impact or pressure. Even a minor bump or drop can result in visible damage to an aquamarine gem.

4. Sensitivity to Heat

Another aspect of aquamarine’s fragility is its sensitivity to heat. High temperatures can cause the color of aquamarine to fade or even turn yellow. This susceptibility to heat makes it essential to handle aquamarine jewelry with care and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures.

5. Vulnerability to Chemicals

Aquamarine is also vulnerable to chemicals. Exposure to harsh chemicals, such as acids and alkaline solutions, can damage the gem’s surface and diminish its luster. It is advisable to remove aquamarine jewelry before engaging in household chores or using cleaning products.

See Also: What Happens When Aquamarine Gets Wet: A Quick Guide

Can aquamarine be worn every day?

Wearing aquamarine every day is generally not recommended for daily use jewelry due to its vulnerability. While it ranks relatively high on the Mohs scale of hardness (7.5-8), it still possesses cleavage and brittleness, making it prone to chipping or cracking with regular wear, especially in rings or bracelets that endure more physical impact. Additionally, exposure to chemicals, heat, and prolonged sunlight can dull its color and luster over time. It’s advisable to reserve aquamarine jewelry for special occasions and choose more durable gemstones like diamonds or sapphires for everyday wear to ensure longevity and preserve its delicate beauty.

Caring for Aquamarine: Best Practices

Understanding the fragility of aquamarine is crucial for its proper care and maintenance. Here are some best practices for ensuring the longevity and beauty of your aquamarine jewelry:

1. Gentle Cleaning

When cleaning aquamarine jewelry, use a mild soap or dishwashing liquid mixed with warm water. Avoid harsh chemicals, as they can damage the gem’s surface. Use a soft brush, like a toothbrush, to gently scrub the jewelry, paying close attention to the areas around the gemstone. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.

2. Avoid High Temperatures

To protect the color and integrity of your aquamarine, avoid exposing it to high temperatures. Remove your aquamarine jewelry before using hot tubs, saunas, or any activity that involves intense heat.

3. Store Separately

Store your aquamarine jewelry separately from other jewelry to prevent scratching and damage. Consider placing it in a soft pouch or jewelry box with individual compartments to minimize contact with other items.

4. Avoid Impact

Take care to avoid bumping or dropping your aquamarine jewelry. Even though it is relatively hard, it can still chip or crack when subjected to sudden impact.

5. Regular Inspection

Periodically inspect your aquamarine jewelry for any signs of damage, loose settings, or wear and tear. Promptly address any issues by seeking professional jewelry repair.

6. Professional Cleaning

Consider having your aquamarine jewelry professionally cleaned and inspected by a jeweler at least once a year. They can check for loose settings, clean hard-to-reach areas, and ensure that your gem remains secure.


Aquamarine’s fragile nature is a testament to its unique geological origins and mineral composition. While this gemstone’s vulnerability may deter some, it is essential to recognize that with proper care and handling, aquamarine can remain a stunning and cherished part of your jewelry collection for generations. Understanding the factors that make aquamarine delicate is the first step toward preserving its beauty and ensuring that it continues to captivate admirers with its timeless charm. So, next time you gaze upon an aquamarine gem, you can appreciate not only its beauty but also the delicate balance that makes it a true marvel of nature.


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