Aquamarine Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

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

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.

Aquamarine Value

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Faceted - Top Color: GB 4/4

.5 to 1.5 carats
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1.5 to 3 carats
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3 carats plus
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All Sizes
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Cat’s Eye
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View Aquamarine Profile

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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. © 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. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

Aquamarine Information

Data Value
Name Aquamarine
Is a Variety of Beryl
Varieties Blue Beryl
Crystallography Hexagonal
Refractive Index 1.567-1.590
Colors Blueish green, blue-green, greenish blue, blue.
Luster Vitreous
Hardness 7.5-8
Wearability Excellent
Fracture Conchoidal to uneven
Specific Gravity 2.66-2.80
Birefringence 0.005-0.007
Cleavage Indistinct
Dispersion 0.014
Heat Sensitivity Some, see the section on care below.
Luminescence None
Luminescence Present No
Enhancements May be heat treated to remove green tint. Very common, undetectable.
Typical Treatments Heat Treatment
Transparency Opaque to transparent
Absorption Spectrum Natural aquamarine: a broad band at 4270 and a diffuse band at 4560. (Weak band may be seen at 5370). Maxixe aquamarine: a narrow line at 6950, a strong line at 6540 and weak lines at 6280, 6150, 5500 and 5810.
Phenomena Chatoyancy; asterism (rare).
Birthstone March
Formula Be3Al2Si6O18 + Fe
Pleochroism Natural aquamarine: blue/colorless (sometimes greenish). Maxixe aquamarine: non-pleochroic (blue/blue).
Optics o = 1.567-1.583; e = 1.572-1.590; Uniaxial (-).
Optic Sign Uniaxial -
Etymology From the Latin aqua marina for "sea water," in allusion to the color.
Occurrence Granitic rocks, especially granite pegmatites.
Inclusions Long, hollow tubes, negative crystals, chrysanthemums. 2-phase and 3-phase inclusions. See the section on inclusions below.
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.

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, 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, 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, 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.

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