“The sea, once it casts it’s spell, holds one in it’s net of wonder forever” Jacques Cousteau
The grandmother I barely remember was a constant traveler and twice a year, until her death when I was 10, there would be the slideshows of her trips. These were neighborhood affairs with refreshments and her lectures were quite informative. In the 1950’s and early 60’s block parties for this type of thing, especially before color TV, were fun and the turnout was big. Folding chairs would be brought in after church for the affairs. The slide quality was also impressive, grandma was aware of being camera challenged, so she would pack the show with tourist packets of sites purchased at her destination-Hawaii, Paris, etc. At a review of her “Italian” trip I can remember the kids my age being totally in of slides taken in around the “Blue Grotto in Capri. A cave filled with blue and light, rowboats, cliffs rising from the sea outside, incredible colors packed with mystery and adventure, and ocean water that looked warm, this was unheard of for a youngster from Maine. This screamed Swiss Family Robinson and was everything us young pirate wannabes dreamed. And the color of the grotto and water my grandmother described as “every color of Aquamarine.”
I imagine Jacques Cousteau would have loved the gem aquamarine. From the beryl family whose name is derived from the Latin, aqua marina, “water of the sea”, this traditional birthstone for March is also believed to watch over sailors and fishermen and impart a “safe voyage over water”.
Most aquamarines are a pale blue color but they range in saturation to light or deeper blues like the blues of sky and sea. The colors in aquamarine are cause by chemical impurities in the stone, the same as many other stones including the aquamarine’s cousin the emerald. Aquamarines are heated to produce the sharp blues of the final gem.
The most prolific finds of aquamarines are in Brazil and South America but this gemstone is found in many areas of world including Maine and New Hampshire. Unlike it’s beryl cousin, the emerald, aquamarine is remarkably free of inclusions. The clear blue of the aquamarine brings out its magnificent shine and transparency. Its hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale makes aquamarine a good choice for jewelry of all types.
Ancient references to to the healing powers of the gem are many and cross cultures:
- Roman Author and Naturalist, Pliny the Elder, 23-79AD, notes aquamarine as an all purpose healing stone with specific properties for eye care and eye disease. In his book ‘Natural History” he raves about the stone and it’s boosts to vitality “the lovely aquamarine, which seems to have come from some mermaid’s treasure house, in the depths of a summer sea, has charms not to be denied.”
- Cross culturally both the Romans and the Early Brits believed the Aquamarine to renew “young love” in married couples.
- In the Middle Ages soldiers believed wearing an aquamarine into battle made them invincible. Likeways those who practiced law thought wearing or carrying an aquamarine stone would carry them to victory.
- Ancient Romans and Greeks seemed to agree the stone had unusual calming effects on the mind and becalming effects on the sea.
As our shop is located in the coastal crossroad of Ellsworth, some of our favorite and most loyal customers over the years are fishermen. We’ve been known to barter jewelry for a dozen lobsters or bucket of scallops. Pyramid Studios has even designed necklaces and pendants around saltwater pearls found by locals in scallop shells. Any stone, like aquamarine, that has a smidgen of a chance, however far-fetched of protecting our fisher folk friends and others who “voyage over water” is okay in our book.
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