MARCH'S BIRTHSTONE: AMAZING AQUAMARINE

Aquamarine, gold and diamond ring by Andrew Grima.  His style became all the rage in the 1960s.

Aquamarine is one of those elegant, stately stones that has always been in the background but never out of fashion.  It has never been wildly trendy but has never suffered the highs and lows of popularity like some of its semi precious counterparts such as topaz, amethyst or peridot.  Aquamarine is a stone from the beryl family- its mineral structure is exactly the same as emerald, but its colour comes from trace elements of iron, whereas emerald is green due to trace emeralds of chromium and vanadium.  The finest examples come from Northern Pakistan, Brazil, Colombia and Thailand.

Wallace Chan takes aquamarine carving to a whole new level in this magnificent example.  He has made the most of the refractive properties of the stone.

Aquamarine in its uncut form can be mined in relatively big crystals, which allow very fine, large specimens to be found.  It is less included than its emerald counterpart, so it is much easier to find eye clean, lively examples of the stone- when buying an aquamarine you should always strive for one that free of inclusions to the naked eye.  The most highly prized colour is a saturated pale blue, with only a very little hint of green.  Very pale goods or very greenish blue are not considered top quality so you should not be paying over the odds for these.  Like with all coloured gems, a buyer should buy what they like rather than be dictated to by what is considered to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  However, an aquamarine buyer should always make sure that the stone has a bright, limpid quality to it, as if it had a drop of sunlit seawater inside it.  The best colour saturation is normally found in stones of over 5 carats.  The last 10 years have seen a surge in prices due to increased demand from the Far East- good examples have gone from the high hundreds of dollars per carat to several thousand.

The Cartier clips of Elizabeth II, exhibiting examples of the many ways aquamarine can be cut.

A contemporary aquamarine and diamond ring by De Grisogono.

The reason for their appeal lies in their versatility, both to the jeweller working with it and the wearer.  A cursory glance into the archive of any jeweller will yield examples of aquamarines through the ages and good examples of aquamarine jewellery are simply too numerous to list here in any great detail.  Due to its relative softness and high refractive index aquamarine can be cut or carved into almost any shape and still look marvellous- indeed, a lot of artist jewellers have been experimenting with carving this stone into dreamlike and fantastical settings.  A good example is Wallace Chan, who cuts figures and faces into them and makes a play with the internal reflection of the stone.  It is not too bright or showy to be worn during the day and makes a great transition into the evening.  Russian aristocrats in particular loved this jewel as they could wear huge aquamarines in the day without being accused of being vulgar by flaunting large diamonds.  Diamonds and pearls complement them best and their gentle colouring ensures that they look good on anyone.