Are White Aquamarines Genuine Aquamarines?


Goshenite and aquamarine are both varieties of beryl. White or colorless beryl is called goshenite. If a beryl gemstone has iron traces, it shows a blue to blue-green color. In that case, it is called an aquamarine. So-called white aquamarines are not aquamarines at all. Most likely they are goshenite gemstones mislabeled in error or deliberately. “Beryl (Var: Goshenite).” © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
Goshenite and aquamarine are both varieties of beryl. White or colorless beryl is called goshenite. If a beryl gemstone has iron traces, it shows a blue to blue-green color. In that case, it is called an aquamarine. So-called white aquamarines are not aquamarines at all. Most likely they are goshenite gemstones mislabeled in error or deliberately. “Beryl (Var: Goshenite).” © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Question

A friend of mine showed me some gems he claimed were white aquamarines. I told him those were not aquamarines, but he insists they are. Supposedly he got a good deal on them because they are colorless instead of blue. Is there actually such a gemstone?

Answer

There are no white aquamarines. There is a mineral species known as beryl. If, and only if, iron impurities cause a piece of beryl to appear blue to blue-green can it be called an aquamarine. If beryl is any other color, it gets a different name. This isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact. The methods of defining gems are used worldwide and are universally accepted. The same is true if you are a miner in Pakistan, a jeweler in Paris, or a GIA Graduate Gemologist.

Your friend’s so-called white aquamarines are most likely colorless beryl, also known as goshenite. That is an inexpensive variety of beryl.

Natural aquamarine is pleochroic. It shows two different colors when viewed from different angles. Aquamarine can show blue from one angle and green or colorless from another. This phenomena doesn't mean that aquamarines which are colorless from one angle can be called white aquamarines. “Beryl (Aquamarine) "Most Precious" by Cliff is licensed under CC By 2.0
Natural aquamarine is pleochroic. It shows two different colors when viewed from different angles. Aquamarine can show blue from one angle and green or colorless from another. This phenomena doesn’t mean that aquamarines which are colorless from one angle can be called white aquamarines. “Beryl (Aquamarine) ‘Most Precious'” by Cliff is licensed under CC By 2.0

Unfortunately, some vendors resort to con tactics to get consumers to spend lots of money gladly on common, inexpensive, or low-quality gems in the belief they are “getting a good deal.” The practice of taking a gem and giving it a new name associated with a more desirable gem is nothing new. Calling morganite gems “pink emeralds” is one of the more famous examples of this. Calling a smoky quartz a topaz is another. Someone once showed me his new diamond ring. I questioned him and learned it was a “CZ Diamond,” but he was sure it was an actual diamond. After all, that is what he was told when he bought it.

It’s dishonest to sell colorless beryl stones as white aquamarines. Just like it’s dishonest to sell a cubic zirconia as a real diamond, or a smoky quartz as smoky topaz. These gemstones aren’t the same. Buyer beware.

Here is a list of some of the most frequently encountered false or misleading gemstone names.

Donald Clark, CSM IMG

“Aquamarine with Schorl.” © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
“Aquamarine with Schorl.” © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.