The Tasteful Aquamarine
Plus Amethyst, Opals and Sapphires
According to the American National Association of Jewelers, the aquamarine is the primary gemstone used for March birthstones. The aquamarine is thought to symbolize honesty, creativity, beauty and loyalty. Therefore, not only do you get to wear a beautiful blue stone, but it is attributed with all these positive qualities, as well!
However, the American National Association of Jewelers also gives alternative birthstones for every month of the year, for those who prefer to wear a different stone. For the month of March, the alternative stones include opals, sapphires and amethyst.
March birthstones all tend to be available in various shades of blue, lavender and purple. Since blue is frequently chosen as the most popular color for the majority of people, women born in March are gifted with the opportunity to select their favorite shade of blue to use as their birthstone.
What is an Aquamarine?
The word aquamarine comes from Latin, and means water of the sea. Indeed, as you look at a gorgeous piece of aquamarine, it is almost like gazing into tropical pale blue water. The stone is actually a blue or turquoise variety of beryl. Much of the gem grade aquamarines that we use come from Sri Lanka. The stone can also be found in the United States in central Colorado and Wyoming. In addition, there are mines in Brazil, Zambia, Colombia, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya that produce aquamarines. The largest gemstone quality aquamarine ever mined came from Marambaia, Brazil in 1910, and weighed over 110 kg! It was about 17 inches in diameter, and 19 inches long. Of course, this is a bit large and heavy for a single piece of jewelry!
One interesting fact about natural aquamarines is that the color of the stone will actually fade to white if it is exposed to sunlight or heat. This would not work very well for a gemstone popularly used in jewelry. To counteract this effect, gemologists have learned that the color returns when the stone is irradiated. In fact, the blue coloring that is so prized in aquamarines can be achieved by irradiating other colors of beryl, such as green, pink or yellow stones. All the natural aquamarines used in jewelry have gone through this process. In addition, you can purchase simulated aquamarines that, when set in sterling silver, create lovely pieces of jewelry at very affordable prices.
What are Opals?
Another lovely option on some jewelers' lists for the March birthstone is the elegant opal, a stone that is closely connected to quartz. Almost all of the world's supply of opals comes from Australia, which calls the opal its national gemstone.
Opals are extremely interesting because their internal structure causes them to diffract light. When you look into an opal, this light diffraction can cause the stone to appear to contain many different colors, including gray, blue and small spots of red, orange, yellow, white, green, rose, brown, magenta, slate, black, pink and the stone may even have nearly clear or translucent areas. This unusual mixture of color is one of the reasons why opals are so greatly appreciated in jewelry.
What are Sapphires?
Sapphires are normally thought of as the September birthstone. Sapphires are a precious gemstone that is commonly described as a brilliant blue. In fact, when you refer to some other item as being sapphire colored, you typically are stating that it is a deep, rich shade of blue. However, true sapphires can also come in other colors, including yellow, pink, purple, orange or green. Some of the paler shades of sapphire can be used as the March birthstone, as a precious gemstone alternative to the aquamarine. If the same stone is red in color, it is referred to as a ruby!
Sapphires are quite hard, and are most commonly used in jewelry. They are found in sediment deposits and rock formations, where they have survived for thousands of years because they resist erosion from softer stones. Sapphires can also be manufactured.
In addition to jewelry, commercial grade sapphires can be used in infrared optical components, watch crystals and electronics.
What is Amethyst?
On some jewelers lists, another gemstone occasionally used as the March birthstone is the amethyst, although the amethyst is most commonly considered the February birthstones. The amethyst is a purple or violet shade of quartz crystal. The stone is very popular because of its lovely, intense color, and it is a wonderful birthstone choice for the person who prefers its rich lavender hues rather than blue.
Amethyst is one of many types of quartz. The mineral is hard enough to make it suitable for use in jewelry. While some stones, like the opal, are intentionally cut to highlight their multi-colored hues, every effort is made to cut amethyst in order to produce as homogenous a gemstone as possible.
Amethyst was used by the ancient Egyptians. It is found in abundance in geodes and hollow agates from Brazil and Uruguay. It is also mined in the United States, Zambia, South Korea, Austria, and Russia. Although it was once considered a very valuable and rare gemstone, it has become somewhat less valuable since it was found to be so abundant in Brazil. Despite that, people who love amethyst jewelry treasure it for its unique color.
Choosing the Best Birthstone for Your Loved One
If you are buying an item of birthstone jewelry as a gift, and they have asked for their birthstone, then you should plan to purchase the aquamarine. This is what they are expecting. However, if they are interested in getting something a little different, then try the sapphire, opal or amethyst, either alone or in combination with other stones. All of them are excellent choices.
Where to Buy Birthstone Jewelry
Most fine jewelry stores, as well as major department stores, will carry a variety of items of birthstone jewelry. However, the selection may be somewhat limited, especially for the less expensive or semi-precious stones. As a result, you may also want to search online at sites like Amazon, at least for comparison purposes.
Buying Jewelry Online
If you do decide to purchase jewelry online, remember that stones have been created by nature, and no two stones are going to be identical in color and pattern. Even when gemstones have been created in a lab, an effort is often made to create some variety in the stones. As a result, if you are ordering jewelry online, appreciate the gemstone you receive for its uniqueness. In most cases, it should not look identical to the gemstone pictured on your computer screen. You really do not want something that looks so mass produced that every stone is identical.
Heart-Shaped Aquamarine Pendant
Amazon Price: $199.99 $99.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 31, 2015)
Stunning Amethyst is an Attractive Gemstone
Amazon Price: $99.95 $7.95 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 31, 2015)
Opals are an Attractive Birthstone Alternative, too!
Amazon Price: $199.00 $39.98 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 31, 2015)