March: Month of Aquamarine

October 21, 2002
Burke Museum
Aquamarine gems are a clear blue-green color.

Photo: “Aquamarines” by Mauro Cateb is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Aquamarine is a variety of the mineral beryl, shown here in its uncut state.

Photo: “Aquamarine” by Mauro Cateb is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

History of aquamarine

Aquamarine's name comes from the words "aqua" and "mare," meaning water and sea, from its intense blue-green color. Because of its resemblance to the ocean, sailors used to wear talismans made of aquamarine depicting the god Neptune, who ruled the seas. With the help of their god, they believed the aquamarine would offer them protection from the elements.

Science of aquamarine

Aquamarine is a variety of the mineral beryl. Beryl generally forms inside granites as magma (molten rock) cools deep inside the Earth. Beryl comes in many different colors, ranging from clear to the deep green of the stones we know as emeralds. Aquamarine, though, is usually blue-green in color due to the presence of iron within the mineral's structure. Less desirable yellow or clear aquamarines can be heat-treated to produce the vibrant blue-green hue.

Class: Silicates
Subclass: Cyclosilicates
Chemistry: Be3Al2(SiO3)6

An alternate birthstone for March is bloodstone, a dark green opaque (cryptocrystalline) quartz flecked with red spots.

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