The category of “gemstones” covers a wide array of precious and semi-precious stones that have differing colors, hardness, density, porosity and many other properties. In this post we are going to cover aquamarines, a semi-precious gemstone from the beryl mineral family, and what you can do to increase the longevity of your aquamarine jewelry.
Types of Beryl Gemstones:
Photo by Linus Nylund
Aquamarines belong to the beryl mineral family which is known for having hard and relatively scratch resistant gemstones. Aquamarine gemstones rate a 7.5 - 8.0 out of 10.0 on the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness.
|Gemstone Name:||Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness Rating:|
|Aquamarine||7.5 - 8.0|
|Emerald||7.5 - 8.0|
|Morganite||7.5 - 8.0|
|Other Beryls||7.5 - 8.0|
|Tourmaline||7.0 - 7.5|
|Garnet||6.5 - 7.5|
|Opal||5.0 - 6.5|
|Turquoise||5.0 - 6.0|
|Cultured Pearls||2.5 - 3.0|
Aquamarine is a semi precious gem while its relative the emerald is considered a precious gem. The beryl family gemstones, including aquamarines, are weaker than rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. If you are going to be wearing your jewelry during strenuous activities like gardening or exercise where damage may occur easily, we would recommend you have diamond jewelry for its superior scratch resistance. Our best recommendation is to take off your fine jewelry during these activities, regardless of the material in your jewelry. However, it is completely possible to wear aquamarines everyday and have them in your favorite rings, pendants, bracelets and earrings if you follow our recommendations below.
Photo by Esther Cuan
Aquamarine and emerald are both composed of beryl minerals, but emeralds are typically more valuable than aquamarines according to the Gemological Institute of America. The difference between these two gemstones lies in the trace elements that affect color during crystal formation. Emeralds contain trace amounts of chromium that give them their iconic deep green hue and aquamarines get their coloring from trace amounts of iron that creates a gemstone color anywhere from a light greenish blue to a rare pure blue before heat treatment.
At Jay F. Jeweler we have found aquamarines to be a wonderful addition to jewelry collections. They are breathtaking and subtle with their blue to blue-green hue and high transparency. Aquamarine gemstones inherently bring thoughts of ocean waves and crystal blue Mediterranean and Caribbean waters. Like their emerald relatives, aquamarines can have fractures and be filled to improve the clarity of the gemstone. This is not as common for aquamarines as it is for emeralds, but it is a treatment you should be aware of as you take care of your aquamarine jewelry over the years.
If aquamarines are fracture filled, they tend to be more durable and less susceptible to environmental damage than fracture filled emeralds. This is due to the materials that are used to fill the fractures. Aquamarines tend to have their fractures filled with glass or resin, and emeralds are typically filled with oil or resin. The glass in treated aquamarines is less likely to break down over time compared to the oils in emeralds.
Photo by Trent Haaland
The best practices to protect and care for your aquamarine jewelry if it has been fracture filled is to keep it away from extreme pressure changes like airplane cabins and avoid extreme heat changes as well.
The treatment most often associated with aquamarines is heat treatment. This is considered permanent and does not alter the strength and durability of the gemstone. Heat treatment can be used to remove the green tones in an aquamarine and leave the gemstone a more brilliant true blue.
Most aquamarines are safe to have cleaned with steam or ultrasonic cleaners at your local jewelry store. The exception is if they are fracture filled. Ultrasonic cleaning can add stress to existing fractures and increase the amount of fractures in your gemstone. Your local jeweler will know if your aquamarine jewelry is safe to be cleaned with these methods.
If you notice that your aquamarine jewelry is beginning to dull or you would like to clean your aquamarine jewelry at home, we recommend a gentle but effective cleaning routine.
Fill a bowl with lukewarm, soapy water and gently clean the gemstone with a soft cloth or soft toothbrush. Once it has been gently cleaned, submerge the jewelry in a clean bowl of lukewarm water to make sure all of the soap and residue are off of the jewelry. Finally, take a clean, dry microfiber cloth and dry the jewelry that is now free of all soap residue. Once it is dry, it is ready to be stored or worn.
This is the gentlest way to clean and maintain your aquamarine jewelry at home. Even with at home cleaning, we recommend you bring your aquamarine jewelry to a jeweler every 6 - 12 months for routine cleaning and inspection. Jewelry cleaning solutions are also considered safe for aquamarine jewelry.
Aquamarine jewelry should be stored separate from other jewelry. It is possible for aquamarines to be scratched from diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other aquamarines. It is also possible that your aquamarine jewelry could scratch or damage other gemstone jewelry like amethysts, opals or pearls which are far less durable. Small plastic jewelry bags or soft fabric storage containers are good storage choices for your gemstone jewelry.
**The information for this blog was obtained from the Gemological Institute of America. If you are interested in learning more about aquamarine gemstones, we recommend you use their website as a resource. If you are interested in learning more about emerald care and repair, please check out our blog post about them here Emerald Care and Repair Blog.