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  • Aquamarine Vintage Engagement Rings – A Buying Guide

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If you are looking for more information before purchasing aquamarine vintage engagement rings, you have come to the right place. Below is a table of contents showing what we cover in this article, you can click to be taken to that section, or start at the top and read all the way through! 

aquamarine beryl

What is an Aquamarine?

Aquamarines come from the mineral known as Beryl, along with Emeralds. Aquamarines are the sea-blue variety of Beryl, with the color coming from iron oxides present in the mineral. Beryls form large crystals that are suitable for large fashioned gems and carvings.

Aquamarines are known for their excellent transparency and clarity; because they are virtually free of inclusions. They can be pale to light-blue, dark-blue, blue-green and green-blue. Aquamarines have a pleochroic effect, meaning that they show different colors depending on the angle you look at it, showing blue, green, or colorlessness.

Aquamarine is rated as a 7.5 - 8 on the MOHS scale of hardness, with diamonds being a 10. Aquamarines are quite durable and can last a lifetime. Aquamarines are one of the few fine gemstones that can be found in large sizes at affordable prices.

Aquamarines are the official birthstone of March. The most valuable aquamarines come from Brazil, but the gemstone is also mined in Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia.

What is a Sapphire?
aquamarine engagement ring

History of Aquamarine Engagement Rings

Sapphires are rated as a 9 on the MOHS scale of hardness, with diamonds being a 10. This means that sapphires are very durable and can last a lifetime.

The word Aquamarine comes from the Latin term, aqua marinus, meaning "water of the sea". Aquamarine symbolizes the natural element of water, possessing the energy of cleansing and purification. Aquamarine represents courage and communication and reminds you to express your love for another. The blue color of this gemstone symbolizes trust, harmony, faithfulness, and companionship.

Historically it was believed that mermaids treasured aquamarine stones. Sailors wore them to protect them from the dangers of the sea.

In ancient Rome, soldiers believed that aquamarine carved into the shape of a frog would reconcile enemies. They also thought it nurtured young love and the stone was given as a gift to brides by their husbands on their wedding night.

Folklore says aquamarine brings joy to a marriage, especially to the bride. It is believed, If you wear an aquamarine and diamond ring as a wedding ring, you will have a successful marriage. During medieval times, aquamarine was also believed to have the ability to rekindle lost marital love, making it a popular gift for the 16th and 19th wedding anniversary.

During the 19th century, sea-green aquamarine was most sought after, but it has since changed. In modern times, the color preference has shifted to a more intense blue.


Watch this Video to see the Range of Aquamarine Colors

Aquamarine Value Indicators

As with other gems, Aquamarine's value depends on the four C's: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight.

The intensity of the color and the clarity of the stone are the most important criteria in determining the value of an aquamarine stone. A dark and deeply saturated blue is the most valuable aquamarine color.

Aquamarine Color 

When we talk about color in gemstones, we refer to 3 attributes of color; hue, tone and saturation.

  • Hue refers to the stones basic color.
  • Saturation is also known as color purity and intensity and refers to the amount of color contained in a gem.
  • Tone refers to the relative lightness or darkness of the stone.

Unlike other colored gemstones, aquamarine’s value comes primarily from its tone rather than its hue and saturation. Dark, but not too dark blues fetch the highest prices. Stones with no green or grey undertones are considered the most desirable. 

Aquamarines in a green-blue or turquoise color occur most abundantly in nature. In general, the bluer hues are considered more valuable, but as aquamarine is most famous for its turquoise color, this is what most consumers seek.

It is important to note that smaller sized aquamarines (less than 5MM Aquamarines) typically have a lighter shade as their size limits their ability to showcase a deep blue color.

aquamarine engagement ring cuts
When we talk about color, we are referring to three things:

Aquamarine Cut

Aquamarines can be cut into various shapes, with gem cutters favoring the emerald cut, as it brings out the gems natural color and sparkle. Oval, round, and pear shaped cuts are also popular. When cut properly, the stone will reflect deep, vibrant blues. Aquamarine is available in both faceted and cabochon cuts.

Aquamarine Clarity 

Aquamarines are one of the most eye-clean gems known, they are a Type 1 gemstone, meaning that most of the aquamarine gemstones lack visible inclusions. Most of the aquamarine cut as fine gemstones have excellent clarity grades.

Aquamarines cousin, Emerald, in contrast, is one of the most included of all gems, often showing surface-reaching fissures.

A perfect aquamarine should be translucent, with no internal or external flaws. Because of aquamarine's transparency and light color, inclusions tend to be highly visible and can impair the beauty of the gem. Visible inclusions will lower an aquamarines value.

Highly transparent aquamarines have a brilliance that adds to the gem's value, even if the tone of the stone is light.

Whatever cut the sapphire is in, it is essential that the edges are symmetrical and the top facet is well centered and even. A sapphire should produce bright color flashes as it moves with no dull spots when it’s rocked and tilted.
Clarity is not as important as color when considering the value of a sapphire gem. Clarity is much more important when it comes to grading diamonds.

Sapphires will usually have a few inclusions, as they are a natural consequence of crystal growth. The less visible these inclusions are to the naked eye (an "eye-clean" gem), the higher the value. A sapphire with no inclusions is often viewed with suspicion because it means they are most likely synthetic.

Aquamarine Carat

Aquamarine occurs naturally in large formations. Therefore, the cost per carat does not increase with size. The largest aquamarine ever found was 136,078 carats!

Aquamarines are most often used as feature stones, rather than accents; this is because aquamarines below 5 carats rarely exhibit desirable tones. The price per carat drops at around 25 carats and up because the stones become too large for jewelry.

The weight of a sapphire is measured in carats. Large sapphires are rare, and therefore have a higher price per carat than small sapphires.

Sapphires tend to be heavier than diamonds, so a one carat sapphire will typically be smaller than a one carat diamond.

Treated and Synthetic Aquamarines

Heat treatment is a widely accepted practice and is used to enhance the blueness of an aquamarine stone. Yellow-brown and yellow-green stones are heated to a temperature between 400 and 450 degrees Celsius. This treatment is permanent and does not damage the stone.

Maxixe aquamarines are blue beryls that get their color from irradiation, not iron. This unstable color will fade over time. Maxixe aquamarines are easy to identify by a spectroscope examination.

Aquamarine grown hydrothermally in a lab is challenging to distinguish from its natural counterpart. Consult with a gemological laboratory to determine whether your stone is natural or synthetic.

Aquamarine will never have air bubbles and because of its hardness, should not have surface blemishes. A natural aquamarine will always feel colder than room temperature.

Shopping at a reputable online store that provides gemologist certification will assure you that you are getting a genuine aquamarine stone.


vintage aquamarine engagement ring buying guide

Metal Choices for Vintage Aquamarine Engagement Rings 

Aquamarine's brilliant blue-green color combines wonderfully with diamonds. It also works well with both yellow and white gold. Aquamarine is one of the rare gems that suits any complexion.

Platinum

Platinum was a favorite jewelry material from the 1890's until the 1940's at the start of World War II when platinum was needed for the war effort and could not be used in jewelry. Platinum jewelry was very popular during the Edwardian era

Platinum is a pure white metal that is extremely durable and resists scratching for years of wear. It is naturally hypoallergenic so it won't irritate sensitive skin.

Gold

Gold comes in a variety of colors including white, green, yellow, and pink (or rose). It is one of the most popular metals used in jewelry, with 10k, 14k, and 18k being the most common. 

Yellow gold is turned into white gold by covering the surface in rhodium. This plating will eventually wear, so you will either need to get your ring re-coated, or your ring will start to return to a yellow gold color.

  • Rose gold looks great on all skin tones and symbolizes love.
  • Yellow gold symbolizes fidelity. 
  • White gold represents friendship. 

Silver

Silver is a softer metal, meaning it is prone to scratching and other damage. Silver tends to oxidize when worn daily, and for this reason, it is not an excellent choice for an engagement ring. 


Vintage Design Periods

Aquamarines were used extensively in Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewelry.  Learn more about vintage design periods


Watch This Video for Aquamarine Buying Tips

Tips on Buying a Vintage Aquamarine Engagement Rings

Vintage jewelry is a huge market, and it can be hard to sort through the choices. You want to make sure you are getting what you pay for. Always be wary if a price seems to good to be true - because it probably is. Shopping online is a great way to take your time to find the perfect ring. I love to shop on Etsy for my vintage jewelry; there are many fantastic and knowledgeable sellers to browse through. 

  • Know the ring size that you need.
  • Start with a budget, there are various price points for engagement rings, so it is good to know ahead of time how much you want to spend.
  • Always ask a potential seller for details about your ring and the stone within it, honest sellers will be open about the details they know.
  • Read customer reviews and feedback about a seller before purchasing.
  • Make sure your ring comes with certification such as a lab report or gem identification report done by a Gemologist certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) proving the quality of the stones and metal.
  • A buyer who is considering the purchase of a loose aquamarine gemstone should request a professional gemological report to help them know exactly what they are purchasing.
A lab report or gem identification report done by a Gemologist certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
Applying heat to sapphires as a treatment to improve color and clarity is a standard and accepted practice in the gem trade and does not depreciate the gem's value.

Heating has been practiced for several thousand years, and it is assumed in the gemology world that all sapphires have been heated until proven otherwise.

Sapphires have also been synthesized and lab created since the late 1800's to the early 1900's. These lab gems are just as beautiful as natural gems, and sometimes more so, because they will have perfect color, cut and clarity. Most certified gemologists will be able to decipher the difference by looking at the gem under a loop or microscope.

Natural, untreated stones will cost way more than stones that have been treated.

Conclusion

Buying a vintage aquamarine ring for the love of your life is not too difficult of a process. Armed with the knowledge from this article will help you navigate the vast selection that is out there. Work with your seller to make sure you are getting a high-quality ring, and you will not be disappointed. 

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below! I always answer and am here to help.

Happy Hunting,
Andrea

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Andrea

I am here to help you find the best vintage jewelry!

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