March has two birthstones – Aquamarine and Bloodstone.
Aquamarines vary in color from deep blue to blue-green of different intensities, caused by traces of iron in the beryl crystal. Naturally occurring deep blue stones are the most prized because they are rare and expensive. However, yellow beryl stones can be heated to change them to blue aquamarines.
The aquamarine or “poor man’s diamond” – is a form of the mineral beryl that also includes other gemstones such as the emerald, morganite, and heliodor. Beryl occurs as free six-sided crystals in rock veins unaffected by shock and weathering that otherwise destroy gem deposits. It is a relatively hard gem, ranking after the diamond, sapphire, ruby, alexandrite, and topaz.
The best commercial source of aquamarines is Brazil. High quality stones are also found in Colombia, the Ural Mountains of Russia, the island of Malagasy, and India. In the United States, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina are the best sources.
The name aquamarine was derived by the Romans from the words “aqua,” meaning water, and “mare,” meaning sea, because it looked like sea water. Aquamarines were believed to have originated from the jewel caskets of sirens, washed ashore from the depths of the sea. They were considered sacred to Neptune, Roman god of the sea. This association with the sea made it the sailors’ gem, promising prosperous and safe voyages, as well as protection against perils and monsters of the sea. Its first documented use was by the Greeks between 480-300 B.C. They wore aquamarine amulets engraved with Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea) on a chariot.
Beginning in the Roman period, the aquamarine was believed to possess medicinal and healing powers, curing ailments of the stomach, liver, jaws, and throat. During the Middle Ages, it was believed to be an effective antidote against poison. Aquamarines were thought to be the source of power for soothsayers, who called it the “magic mirror,” and used it for telling fortunes and answering questions about the future. It is said that Emperor Nero used it as an eyeglass 2,000 years ago. Much later, aquamarines were used as glasses in Germany to correct shortsightedness. In fact, the German name for eyeglasses today is “brille,” derived from the mineral beryl.
Aquamarine is a stone of courage. Its calming energies reduce stress and quiet the mind. Aquamarine has an affinity with sensitive people. It can invoke tolerance of others and overcomes judgmentalism, giving support to those overwhelmed by responsibility.