Aquamarine jewellery: a colour as fascinating as its history

Discover the best of aquamarine jewels and its history, a stone of the beryl family that inspires jewellery designers to create blue masterpieces.

Art Nouveau yellow gold brooch designed with a central aquamarine panel carrying an aquamarine drop, set between two green tourmalines, within enamelled ovals with diamonds, by Georges Fouquet, Paris. Available at Hancocks.

By Åse Anderson

Aquamarine takes its name from the Latin word for seawater, its luminous hue conjuring up images of the ocean. Like many other gemstones, the aquamarine is surrounded by myths and legends. The Romans believed that a frog carved out of an aquamarine would turn enemies into friends, while both the Greeks and Romans used the gem as a good luck charm for sailors battling stormy waters.

Like the emerald, the aquamarine is a member of the beryl family and its colour can range from an almost translucent blue to intense blue-green or teal.

In the 19th century, sea-green aquamarine jewellery was the most sought after but, in later years, the colour preference shifted to a more intense blue. 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.

Read more about the history of aquamarine jewellery here

From the late 19th century onwards, the aquamarine was used extensively in both Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewellery. Art Nouveau jewellers revolted against the stiff Victorian era with aquamarine jewellery designs inspired by nature and animals, with gemstones often mounted in swirling lines of gold.

The Art Nouveau design period between 1890 and 1914 continues to inspire contemporary jewellery designers today, while antique pieces are highly sought after. In the late 19th century, René Lalique made his name as one of France's foremost Art Nouveau jewellery designers, and his jewels often featured aquamarines, such as the aquamarine pendant featured here, which formed part of the Maker & Muse exhibition at the Driehaus Museum.

Like the Art Nouveau movement that preceded it, Art Deco originated in Paris and influenced artists and designers all over the world.

Created by Marzo in Paris around 1925, the Art Deco pendant pictured here features an aquamarine briolette alongside diamonds, sapphires and bands of black enamel. It was exhibited at the Haughton International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show, along with an Art Nouveau aquamarine brooch by Parisian jeweller Georges Fouquet.

Featuring the distinct geometric lines that characterised design in the 1940's, thisVan Cleef & Arpels Ludo Hexagone gold and aquamarine bracelet watch was sold at Christie's New York last year.

The Maison continues to use this beautiful blue gem in its jewels today, and prides itself on selecting only the finest aquamarines of the purest composition and most intense hues to create masterpieces such as the aquamarine ring from the magical Peau d'Âne collection.

See more aquamarine rings here

Aquamarines were also frequently incorporated into tiaras, including this Cartier aquamarine and diamond tiara, which was one of 27 that the jeweller created for the coronation of George VI in 1937. Made from platinum, the tiara is set with oval and fancy-cut aquamarines, as well as round old-cut diamonds.

See our tiara gallery here

With its beautiful range of blue colours, it is no wonder that the luminescent aquamarine continues to inspire jewellery designers to create extraordinary pieces. 

Editor's Pick

The Jewellery Editor is for sale

Help us make the future bright

Since founding The Jewellery Editor in 2010, we have grown our digital magazine to be the number one global source of information and inspiration for fine jewellery and luxury watches.

3,500 articles, 150 videos and a reach of over 2 million per month on social media later, we have offered unparalleled and highly respected coverage of our sector. However, despite our editorial success, we are financially struggling as an independent publisher.

Entirely funded, owned and run by Christine and Maria in London, we are now looking to sell The Jewellery Editor so that it can continue to grow in the hands of a different owner. As e-commerce becomes a priority in our industry, we believe there is huge potential for engaging editorial content and are seeking a buyer who shares our values and passion so that under their guidance we can give a bright future to the platform.

We can’t commit to financing the website for much longer so if we don’t manage to initiate any meaningful conversations in the next few weeks, the website will be frozen on 1st April 2018. If and when we find a suitable partner we will revive it and take it to the next stage.

If you are interested to discuss the above, please contact [email protected]

Alternatively, if you are willing to help, you can donate so that in the meantime, we can continue to publish more interesting content.

Terms and conditions

READ MORE

RECOMMENDED

MOST POPULAR

We use our own and third party cookies to improve your experience and our services. If you continue, we consider that you accept their use. You can get more information on your website at cookies policy.