march birthstone – aquamarine
OK, March is almost over, but gemstones last a lifetime. Not just one month. Aquamarine is one of my favorite gemstones for cutting because it polishes beautifully without using diamond paste. This stone is easily polished with a plastic film lap and water. Because of the water you don’t need to worry about heat from friction that could crack the stone or make it fall off the dop.
Beryl is a family of stones that has very famous members. This gem is a hardness of 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. That makes it ideal for rings and all other jewelry because it will wear well. Family members include Green Beryl, Emerald, Heliodor (yellow), Morganite (pink), Goshenite (colorless), and a more recent discovery Red Beryl (Utah, USA), and Aquamarine (blue to blue-green). Some people refer to the blue – green variety as sea foam in color. I happen to love the blue-green aquamarine and always leave the color alone rather than heat treat it to get rid of the green. But as always; the market dictates and blue is the most popular color.
There is a growing market for aquamarine engagement rings. The center stone is the blue aquamarine and then surrounded by diamond melee. I have a photo of one with a halo that really shows off the blue. A beautiful ring that costs a lot less than a large diamond of quality.
Emeralds are very well known and the most famous of the beryl family. People have written entire books on emerald and I do not have a real expertise on this gem because good emerald is as expensive as diamond. So everyone knows that emerald is a gorgeous green and costs a bundle. What more can I elaborate? An acceptable practice in the gem business is to oil emeralds with cedar oil to enhance the color and clarity. I have cut some cheap emeralds that people brought to me for cutting and I oiled them. A rather milky looking emerald gets a little more clear after oiling and definitely improves the over all look of the stone. Now the good stones: I really don’t know, but I would strongly recommend you consult a gemologist if you are contemplating spending $10,000 or more. Also demand a GIA cert. Look at this expense as insurance. What’s another $100?
Heliodor – from the Greek meaning sun. This gem is a beautiful golden yellow color. Most of it today is coming out of Brazil. Back in the mid 1990’s I was able to get wonderful heliodor crystals from Tajikistan. The Taliban seems to have curtailed mining from that part of the world.
Morganite – Named after financier J.P.Morgan in 1910. Pink, peachy-pink, yellow-pink. Mostly out of Brazil these days. Hard to come by in large sizes with good clarity. Very pretty.
Red Beryl – formerly called bixbite and named after Maynard Bixby of Utah. Some people market this gem as “red emerald”. Red emerald is very rare and therefore pricey. Not many faceted stones are available to the public and even then only in small sizes of 1 to 2 carats. Truly a collectors stone. It’s one of those “put it in a box” gems that I’m so fond of talking about.
Green Beryl – This stone is also beautiful when cut well. Emerald is distinguished by the prescience of chromium. All other shades of green that do not have chromium are classified as green beryl. One problem I see here is that citrine (yellow quartz) has a reflective index (ability to reflect light) very similar to beryl. Citrine can be exposed to radiation until it gets a green-yellow color. This stone is quite common and not of the same value as beryl. Make sure you are guaranteed that what you are getting is green beryl.
The photos on this post were not all that easy to find. The blue aquamarine was the easiest because of its popularity. Next I searched for emerald. I have never seen so much garbage in faceted stones. Absolutely shameful. Highly visible flaws and cutting that looked like a beginner was learning to cut. I appreciate the fact that photographing gemstones is very difficult and the people with the best stones seem to have the best photography. Try it sometime. It took hours of research to get these photos. I can’t just throw anything up here, and I’m reviewing not just one product. I need to use photos that are not copyrighted for my blogs and photos I have permission to use. As an affiliate I can use photos published by the advertisers I represent. In the case of emeralds, the best photos that represent the true beauty of these gems were very expensive stones. I’m not trying to push these particular stones, but these are truly great examples. Heliodor, green beryl, and morganite is also rather scarce these days in good quality. I took the time to research for representative photos to help you see what good gems look like. Thank you for stopping by. Robert