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What is the best color of aquamarine?

What is the best color of aquamarine?

Aquamarine is a beautiful blue-green variety of the mineral beryl. It is prized as a gemstone for its alluring color and clarity. But not all aquamarines have the same hue – the color can range from a very light pastel blue to a more intense teal. So what is considered the best and most valuable color for aquamarines? There are a few key factors that determine which shade is the finest.

Natural Aquamarine Colors

Aquamarine derives its color from trace amounts of iron within the mineral. The more iron present, the more intense the blue-green color. Natural aquamarines exhibit a wide spectrum of hues, including:

Very Pale Blue Has just a hint of blue, may appear almost colorless
Light Sky Blue Delicate icy blue tones
Blue-Green Classic aquamarine color
Teal Deeper, more greenish blue
Deep Blue-Green Intense, almost emerald-like color

The exact shade depends on where the aquamarine formed geographically and the mineral composition of the stone. Certain parts of the world, like Brazil and Africa, naturally produce aquamarines with a deeper hue because the mineral formed with higher iron content.

Most Valuable Aquamarine Color

When it comes to value, the richest, most intense blue-green aquamarines are considered the best quality and command the highest prices. Deeply saturated stones have a vivid, eye-catching color that is visually striking, especially in larger gemstones. The teal to deep bluish-green shades are rare and desirable.

Pale aquamarines can be beautiful too, but they are much more common and don’t display the quintessential vibrant aquamarine hue. Extremely pale stones may be confused with diamonds or topaz. Light aquamarines are generally affordable and abundant, making them popular for lower budget jewelry.

Here is a comparison of high quality valuable aquamarines versus more affordable light colored stones:

Valuable Aquamarines Affordable Aquamarines
Intense saturated blue-green color Very pale icy blue color
Rarer, higher iron content Common, lower iron content
Striking, vivid appearance Subtle, delicate appearance
Medium to large gemstones Smaller gemstones
Fewer visible inclusions More visible inclusions
Higher clarity grade Lower clarity grade
Higher karat gold settings Silver, plated or steel settings
Higher price per carat Lower price per carat

Judging Aquamarine Color

Gemologists and jewelers evaluate aquamarine color based on three main attributes:

– **Hue** – The actual color, ranging from blue to green

– **Tone** – How light or dark the color is

– **Saturation** – Intensity and vividness of the hue

The most valued aquamarines have a primary hue that leans slightly more blue than green. Their tone is moderately dark, not too light or black. Optimal saturation means the color is rich and deep but still transparent.

Too much green or black makes the aquamarine look dull. Extremely light and desaturated stones lack visual impact. Finding the perfect balance of hue, tone and saturation is what defines the finest aquamarines.

Aquamarine Grading Scales

Gemological laboratories use scientific grading scales to judge aquamarine color accuracy and commercial quality.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) assigns an alphabetical grade from D to Z, with D representing the finest color. The GIA D-Z scale is as follows:

D-F Rare, exceptional color
G-J Good color
K-M Fair color
N-R Poor color
S-Z Very poor color

The American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) uses a numeric 1-10 scale, with 1 being the highest grade.

9-10 Superb
7-8 Excellent
5-6 Fine
3-4 Poor
1-2 Very Poor

Both grading systems favor aquamarines with a vivid blue-green hue and strong saturation in the D-F (GIA) and 9-10 (AGL) ranges.

Natural vs. Treated Aquamarine

Some aquamarines undergo heat treatment to enhance or intensify their color. This process is generally accepted, as long as it is disclosed at the time of sale. However, untreated natural aquamarines command the highest value and prices.

Colored epoxy fillers and polymer impregnated dies are also used sometimes to artificially change the aquamarine’s appearance. These treatment methods are considered fraudulent enhancements and significantly decrease the stone’s worth. Always ask for certification paperwork when purchasing aquamarines. Reputable jewelers will provide documentation of any disclosed treatments.

Matching Cut to Color

The way an aquamarine is cut impacts how its color is perceived. Some cutting styles maximize color saturation, while others let more light pass through to showcase clarity.

– Darker aquamarines are best displayed with **brilliant cuts**, which add sparkle and radiance. Round, oval, cushion and square brilliant cuts are ideal.

– Pale aquamarines show off delicate hues well in **emerald cuts** or **step cuts**. The long, open facets allow light to reflect and accentuate the soft color.

– Vivid medium-toned stones look amazing in **mixed cuts**, which have a step-cut crown and brilliant-cut pavilion to balance color and light.

Ideal Aquamarine Carat Size by Color

The carat weight that best flatters each shade also differs:

Aquamarine Color Most Flattering Carat Size
Very light blue 0.5-1 carats
Light sky blue 1-2 carats
Medium blue-green 2-4 carats
Dark teal blue-green 5+ carats

Tiny very pale stones won’t show much discernible color. But set in earrings or clusters, they exude a delicate charm. For bolder aquamarines with rich hues, go with larger stones for maximum visual impact.

Best Aquamarine Jewelry Settings

Aquamarine’s stunning color deserves to be shown off in flattering settings:

– **Prongs** – Trim metal claw or prong settings allow light to enter from all sides, maximizing color display. White metals like platinum or white gold keep the setting neutral.

– **Bezels** – Bezel rings and pendants feature a thin metal rim encircling the stone. This provides a clean, modern look. Yellow gold bezels enhance bluish-greens.

– **Halos** – Surrounding the aquamarine with a pavé halo of small diamonds makes the center stone truly dazzling.

– **Minimal metals** – Opt for simple streamlined settings with sleek lines that don’t compete or detract from the aquamarine. Let the gemstone be the star.

Matching Aquamarine with Other Gems

Certain gemstone pairings can really make aquamarine colors pop:

– Complementary orange gems like **spessartite garnet**, **imperial topaz** or **orange sapphire** bring out aquamarine’s blue tones.

– **Ruby and red spinel** play up the green hues.

– **Emerald** is aquamarine’s sister beryl, creating a sophisticated set.

– **Diamonds**, especially white diamonds, provide contrast that intensifies aquamarine’s color saturation.

Best Aquamarine Jewelry Uses by Color

Light aquamarines work beautifully in:

– Dainty earrings and rings

– Fashion jewelry

– Bridal designs like engagement rings

Vivid aquamarines make sensational:

– Statement necklaces and cuff bracelets

– High-end designer pieces

– Large cocktail rings

Caring for Aquamarine Jewelry

To keep aquamarine looking its best:

– Clean with warm water, mild soap and soft brush. Avoid harsh chemicals.

– Store properly in soft cloth away from other gems to prevent scratching.

– Avoid prolonged sun exposure which can cause fading.

– Have stones re-polished professionally if needed.

– Take care during daily wear to protect from knocks and impacts.

Aquamarine Supply and Availability

The largest sources of gem-quality aquamarines are:

Brazil Produces 50-80% of the world’s supply. Majority comes from Minas Gerais.
Mozambique Newer source but produces very fine large stones.
Nigeria Important smaller stones but vivid color.
Madagascar Lower quantities but contribute great blue hues.
Afghanistan Historically significant, pale blue aquas.
Pakistan Primarily produces smaller aquamarines.
United States Few deposits in Maine and North Carolina.

While Africa is gaining prominence for large aquas, Brazil remains the powerhouse. But supply can fluctuate year to year. Overall, gem-grade aquamarine is still considered common and affordably priced, particularly lighter stones. But the finest deep colors are rare treasures.

Aquamarine Value and Pricing

Retail aquamarine prices vary greatly depending on:

– **Color** – Vivid blues/greens over pale blues. D/E grades fetch more.

– **Clarity** – Eye clean or minor inclusions only. Loupe clean costs more.

– **Cut** – Well proportioned for maximum color. Fancy cuts pricier.

– **Carat Size** – Bigger stones exponentially higher, especially over 5 carats.

– **Source** – Brazilian and African origins command premium.

– **Treatments** – Natural unheated aquas cost more.

At the time of writing, typical price ranges are:

Aquamarine Weight Price Range
0.5 carats $50 – $300
1 carat $100 – $600
2 carats $400 – $1,500
3 carats $1,000 – $3,000
4+ carats $2,000 – $6,000+

Fine quality loose stones over 5 carats can demand $10,000 or more. Jewelry prices are also influenced by metal and labor costs. But overall, aquamarine provides an affordable pop of color compared to rarer blue gems.


The most valuable and desirable aquamarine color is a moderately dark, vivid blue-green with strong saturation. While very pale aquas have their own appeal, the rare intense hues are what make this gem truly special. Seeking out untreated stones with rich D-F color grades, excellent clarity and fine cutting ensures the best aquamarine. For showstopping appeal, larger aquamarines over 2 carats really make the magnificent color dance. With proper care, these entrancing blue-green gems can offer a lifetime of enjoyment and beauty.