Aquamarines can occur as gemmy crystals in veins within granite pegmatites as well as in secondary (alluvial) placers. Read our article on aquamarine formation to learn more about the geological processes that shape these gems.
The largest and most important commercial producer of gem-quality aquamarine is undoubtedly Brazil.
Mines in the states of Bahia, Espirito Santo, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, and Minas Gerais have yielded aquamarines for 300 years. More than twenty active aquamarine sources are in operation across Brazil.
The Brazilian sites excel in producing large, relatively clean, beautiful crystals. Their natural colors are typically greenish blue, commonly referred to as “Brazilian aqua.” Sellers usually heat this material to remove the green coloration. This produces the purer blue colors many consumers prefer.
“Santa Maria” Aquamarines
The Santa Maria de Itabira mine, located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, is nearly exhausted. However, it produces aquamarines with a rarer, medium-dark toned, highly saturated color known in the trade as “Santa Maria.” Consumers highly prize these gems.
However, keep in mind that sellers who use the term “Santa Maria” may be referring only to the color, not the locality itself. Fine aquamarines with a…