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Aquamarine - colors

Hi How dark does aqua get? I have seen some very faded (like
clear), some with greenich tint and a little bit darker than ice
colored. Does it ever get as dark as deeper blue topaz? I have
a gemstone that I qestion as being aqua. Is there an easy way to
tell? I don’t have fancy testing equipment.

Bob B

Almost all aqua is a quite light blue. The best it generally
gets is still a color you’d call “light” blue. The deeper blue
topaz is no longer “light” at all. Aqua is also almost never
that intense in saturation either.

Peter Rowe

Some Aquamarine can get quite dark. I have had some Nigerian
material that was untreated and as dark as some blue topaz.
Unfortunately there is no easy way of telling. If you have a
refractometer that is the best way but you at least need to have

Bob, Yes, aqua can be a lot darker than the watery almost clear
color we see most often. However, most of the darker material I
have seen has a lot of green in it. It is fairly easy to
distinguish aqua from topaz. Aquamarine is pleochroic. It
exhibits a color change when the crystal is viewed from different
angles. Topaz will exhibit no color change. Also, topaz has a
higher luster. Aqua’s is vitreous or glass-like.

Shari VanderWerf
Vanguard Studio
Stoughton, Massachusetts


I’m not a gemmologist; I just cut rocks. I noticed no one was
jumping right in to answer your question, so I’ll throw in my
little bit of info.

Aquamarine comes in colors ranging from sea-green (The preferred
color in the 19th century) through the green-blues and
blue-greens to icy blue and darker blue (the preferred color
today). The depth of color in a cut stone can have a lot to do
with the cut of the stone, itself. The deeper the cut, the
darker the color. Also, orientation in aqua has some effect on
depth of color. A cut with the table facet parallel to the
length of a crystal will give a darker, deeper color. Of course,
heat treating will also enhance stone color, though I’m not sure
whether that has to do with clarity or the color itself. As to
identifying your stone… 'fraid I’m not much help. I’m good at
identifying rough stone, but once they’re cut, your guess is as
good as mine! Thumbing through some of my books, it seems the
best identifier between aqua and any similar stones (apatite,
tourmaline, topaz) would be specific gravity. Aqua has a s.g. of
2.69. All others I’ve listed are over 3.00 s.g.

Hope this is of some help.

Mark Williams,
Stone Broke Custom Lapidary

hi, the nicest aqua can approach skyblue topaz. there is a type
of aqua called (i think) maxixe that is quite a bit more intense
but has unstable color.

best regards,

geo fox

If you look at gemstone books (i have a few), you will find that
Aquamarine comes in every shade of blue (to blue-green) from
almost colorless, pale blue to a very dark, very expensive,
highly sought after blue. Not quite as dark as say, a london
blue topaz, but I would say 3/4 as dark. Ask an importer that
sells Aquamarine to show you the different shades, you will be
surprised !!! As for telling the difference between Topaz and
Aquamarine, Topaz feels different than any other stone that looks
the same as it. The feel of Topaz is almost waxy, whether it is
in it’s natural state or it’s cut. Other stones feel like glass.
Try this with stones in comparison to Topaz and get a “feel” for
Topaz, and you will be an instant “expert”!

God Bless,

Actually there is an older Color of Aqua that was reffered to as
Santa Maria Blue, and it was stable and was a deep sea blue.
Gorgeous Coloring in blue, Also Aqua coloring can border on the
Green blue side of emerald. As an intense Greenish Stone with
alot of Blue running throught the Stone! My two cents


The pleochroism issue is fine if you are dealing with crystals
but it is not readily apparent in finished pieces. Judging by
the luster also takes an extremely experienced eye and should NOT
be used as a final proof of gem id. You have to use some
equipment to establish the id.

Hello Bob,

It’s not hard to tell the difference between Topaz and
Aquamarine even if the brighter Topaz is not apparent because of
poor cutting. Beryl has a Relative Density of only 2.6 whereas
Topaz has an RD of 3.5 so you only need an accurate scale, your
Leveridge gauge and a little math using the formula that came
with the gauge. e.g. A 5ct Aqua is much bigger than a 5ct Topaz.

Greenish Aqua can often be heat treated to blue but deep bright
colours are usually not obtained, in fact rich blue Aqua is
extremely rare and valuable.

The nicest I have ever worked on was a 30.75 ct monster
requiring a crown repolish. It was a very rich blue equal to the
finest Ceylon sapphire which showed well in spite of the awful
Brazilian fat bellied faceted window job and the Jeweller claimed
that it was worth some $50,000, he said he had seen better but
never bigger, of course the depth of the stone did influence the
richness of its colour. I returned his stone 8pts lighter along
with the biggest single stone cutting bill I have ever made. It
was the cheapest recut he had ever encountered as his cutter in
Germany had prepared him for a 1 - 2 ct loss and he had been
agonising for years as he felt his reputation couldn’t afford
using it in its abraded condition and also he didn’t really want
to trust such a stone to the mails. He was a bit taken aback at
my suggestion to recut it into a 15ct killer barion that would
knock his eyes out from across the room though, now that would
have been a lot of fun …for me

hi, specific gravity of topaz is higher (about 3.5 compared to
2.66 if memory serves)than aqua or other beryls. a seperation can
be made using heavy liquid and comparison stones.

best regards,
geo fox


I was going to mention in my previous post that a good barion

cut would do wonders for an aqua’s color. Though I have yet to
try a barion cut myself (I’m very much the beginning faceter), I
am a big fan of the cut… Do you have any good suggestions as
to reading material for cutting barions? I think I understand
the gist of the cuts, but I would like more detailed info before
I try one.

Mark Williams,
Stone Broke Custom Lapidary

anthony, I guess this is getting off the subject, but you asked
about faceting Barion cuts, try the Vargas books faceting
diagrams volumes I, II and III. I have been cutting from these
diagrams for at least eight years. Also if you want great
and a digest just like this one dedicated solely to
faceting then you need to check out
good luck Nick

 The feel of Topaz is almost waxy, whether it is in it's
natural state or it's cut.  Other stones feel like glass. Try
this with stones in comparison to Topaz and get a "feel" for
Topaz, and you will be an instant "expert"! 

This is a fallacy. I am a Graduate Gemologist with 20 years of
experience with colored stones and this is not a guaranteed way
of determining a gem material. If you base your identifications
on this alone you will surely get in trouble when some customer
brings something you sell to a qualified gemologist. You NEED to
have the proper equipment to identify a stone, including but a
not limited to, a gemological miroscope, a refratometer, a
polariscope and a dichroscope. While the feel, the luster or the
look of a particular stone might be one element of an
identification process, it is NOT a substitute for using the
right equipment for the job.

Hi Anthony,

Another source of cutting diagrams for Barions is ’ Volume 6 of
Facet Designs’ by Robert Long & Norman Steele. This aprox 60
page, 8 1/2 X 11, book has explicit cutting instructions for many
Barion designs.

There are 7 other Long & Steele books on other cuts. Each book
sells for around $10.00. They are wide acclaimed by experienced
faceters. They’re usually available from lapidary suppliers. If
you can’t find a supplier, contact me, I may be able to help.