Aquamarine is the birthstone for March. — The Aquamarine (Beryl) is a transparent precious gem, of a pale green color; such as is most truly resembled by a sea-water green: which color is caused by the mixture of a blue and green: in so much as this gem is blue out of a green; that is it does discover its blue through the color of green.
Epiphanius (Epiphanius of Salamis) says of Aquamarine, that it is «glauca gemma», of the color of a quiet sea. All Beryls are transparent says Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius), and have alloyed color that is, not a full color: for is they have a full color, they are taken for other common jewels.
If you would see the the perfect color of the Aquamarine, put a little «indico» in fair water, and with it tenth part of green color, and you shall have the perfect resemblance and true color of the Beryl. Pliny (Pliny the Elder) says that the Aquamarine is in fashion «fix-quare», and in color like oil or water sea.
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OF ITS NAMES
The Hebrews call it «תרשיש» (Tarshish), as Exod.28.20. It seems to have its name, as it does appear by Buxtorff (Johannes Buxtorf), from the maritime city Tarshish: It is a whole transparent stone, of a sea-water green.
The word «תרשיש» is by S. Hierome (Saint Jerome) interpreted «Chrysolithus»; but indeed the Chrysolite which is «vereè Chrysolithus», is much different from it, as being of a golden color, whereas Tarshish is green.
Anselmus Boetius, that the Hebrews call this stone «Fashpech», as it is by S. Hierome interpreted «Chrisolithus», but it seems rather to have some kind of affinity with the «species» of the «Fasper», some oh the kinds of which are of a green color like the «Tarshish».
What the true Chrysolite is, will appear by the former chapter, where a true discovery is made of it as it does differ from the true Topaz, which was vulgarly by those of ancient time called «Topazius», but how improperly will appear in the etymology of the word «Chrysolithus», which renders the «Chrysolite» to be of golden color, whereas the true Topaz is of a diluted green.
This mistake has arisen in the Chrysolite and Topaz, from the custom of them in ancient time, who were wont to call a Chrysolite a Topaz, and a Topaz a Chrysolite, whom in this their mistake many Lapidists (from Lapidary) have too too superciliously followed. Read more about November Birthstone Topaz.
Now because the Beryl (being a green) may sometimes be taken for a Topaz, which is likewise green and pellucid, it may be St. Jerome, according to the custom, has interpreted the «תרשיש», which in its own proper signification is «verus Beryllus», to be «Chrysolithus».
In Latine «Beryllus» and «Beryllus Thalassius sieve marinus». It is called Beryl of the nation where it is generated. The Italians call it «aqua marina» (Aquamarine,—for today known as a March Birthstone); and in English we call it Beryl: when they have any golden rays, they care called «Chrysoberylls» or Chrysoberyl.
THE LEGENDS ABOUT AQUAMARINE
Aquamarine in a spheric form has the same power of begetting fire from the Sun by its beams, that a Crystal glass has. It is said of a Aquamarine (or Beryl), that is it be wrapt in a linen cloth, and put into water, or put into water without it, the water will seem to be moved. (Baccius de nat.gem.in annotate.in cap.13).
Wurtzung (a German physician) in his general practice faith, that the Aquamarine is used in all distempers of the heart. But take this caution by the way; Beware of the use of gems (unless you are sure they be true) in Physic, by reason hay are so frequently adulterated.
The Aquamarine (or Beryl) is often esteem not only for its beauty, but for it sacred use: for it was one of those stones that was set in the Ephod (in ancient Israel — a sleeveless garment worn by Jewish priests.); as Exod.28.20. and one of those beryls by which the glory of one of the foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem is discovered unto us; namely the eight foundations, as Revel.21.20.
Ingenuous artificers do engrave the Aquamarine with many angles, that by the repercussion of them, they may be made the more lively, and the more to sparkle.
AQUAMARINE IN JEWELRY
The price of the Aquamarine is augmented or diminish according to the elegance of its color. And this rule is to be observed in the price of all jewels.
Aquamarine, though one of the cheapest of the gems, and the most abundant, is in considerable demand, and is esteemed a fashionable stone.
Aquamarines occur in general of a sufficient size for necklaces, in which form they are usually worn; they are also used for broaches, and not infrequently for seal-stones and intaglios.
Aquamarine is a pleasant one for the lapidary to work, as it stands cutting and polishing without risk. Want of luster, and paleness, and weakness of color, being the defects to which it is chiefly subject, it is requisite that a good stone should be formed with a small table, a high bazel, and with the under part cut into delicate steps.
The only substance with which the common Aquamarine is likely to be confounded is the Blue Topaz, from which it is readily distinguished by its inferior specific gravity, and consequently inferior luster.
AQUAMARINE AS A MINERAL
The usual form of the Aquamarine is a prism of six or twelve sides, deeply striated longitudinally, 80 that it often. approaches towards cylindrical; sometimes a thick prism divides at one extremity into, a multitude of needle shaped crystals, so as to resemble a painter’s brush; sometimes the crystals are jointed, the upper extremity of each piece being concave and the lower convex; sometimes a crystal will present the appearance of having been broken across, and afterwards in mended, the two pieces not being in the same perpendicular, and the place of the fracture being surrounded as it were with a callus.
The size of the crystals varies extremely from mere threads to prisms a foot or more in length, and about four inches in thickness; these latter however are never sufficiently transparent and perfect for the use of the jeweler.
Its cross fracture is conchoidal; its longitudinal is more or less foliated. Its hardness is somewhat superior, to that of rock crystal; and its specific gravity is about 2.7.
Aquamarine occurs imbedded in graphic granite, also in mineral veins with clay, garnet, fluorspar, and topaz. The best are procured in Brazil, in Siberia, and in Ceylon. It is also found, but of very inferior quality, in North America, in France, and in Scotland.