goshenites on muscovite matrix
goshenites on muscovite matrix

Are White Aquamarines Genuine Aquamarines?


Aquamarine is the blue to blue-green variety of beryl. If you encounter so-called white aquamarines, buyer beware. Learn the facts about these gems here.

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Question:A friend of mine showed me some gems he claimed were white aquamarines. I told him those weren't aquamarines, but he insists they are. Supposedly, he got a good deal on them because they're colorless instead of blue. Is there actually such a gemstone?
goshenites on muscovite matrix
So-called "white aquamarines" may actually be goshenites, the colorless variety of beryl. Goshenite crystals on bladed muscovites, 7.9 x 5.6 x 5.5 cm Beryl-Scheelite deposit, Huya village, Mt Xuebaoding, Pingwu Co., Mianyang Prefecture, Sichuan Province, China. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

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're a miner in Pakistan, a jeweler in Paris, or a GIA Graduate Gemologist.

aquamarines on matrix
Aquamarines on a schorl matrix, 3.1 x 11.1 x 9.8 cm, Erongo Mountain, Usakos District, Erongo Region, Namibia. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

What are Goshenites?

Your friend's so-called white aquamarines are most likely colorless beryl, also known as goshenite. That's an inexpensive variety of beryl. Although aquamarines and goshenites are both varieties of beryl, only beryls with iron traces that show blue to blue-green color are aquamarines. Colorless beryls, by definition, are goshenites.

Interested in this topic?

This article is also a part of our Aquamarine Specialist Mini Course, in the unit Identification of Aquamarine.

trillion-cut goshenite - Brazil
Trillion-cut goshenite, 5.21 cts, 13.1 mm, Brazil. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Beware of "Good Deals"

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're "getting a good deal."

The practice of taking a gem and giving it a name associated with a more popular or valuable 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 "Cubic Zirconia Diamond," but he was sure it was an actual diamond. After all, the vendor told him that 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 simply aren't the same. Buyer beware.

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

Donald Clark, CSM IMG

pleochroic aquamarines
Natural aquamarine displays pleochroism. It shows two different colors when viewed from different angles. Aquamarine can appear blue from one angle and green or colorless from another. However, this doesn't mean aquamarines colorless from one angle qualify as white aquamarines. "Most Precious," a 1,000-ct aquamarine on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Photo by Cliff. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

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