Aquamarine: Myth and Magic of the March Birthstone

Beryls, with their range of color from almost colorless to rich green emerald, have fascinated human beings for millennia. Emerald’s distinct color and rarity means it has given rise to many myths specific to it. But the other, more pastel beryls–yellow, pink, light green, and aquamarine–have attracted legends of their own magic. If aqua is your birthstone, you have some wonderful stories to choose from.

ABOVE: This 15.5 carat natural aquamarine crystal shows the “water clear” condition in which the gemstone can come from the mine. Photo Mia Dixon, courtesy Pala International.

There are stories that beryl can allow you to converse with spirits or devils and drag from them answers to any existential questions you might have. One myth says the beryl must be held in the mouth to do this, so speak clearly. According to George Frederick Kunz, another says that: “A hoopoo [hoopoe] with a tarragon held before it, [if carved or] represented on a beryl, confers the power to invoke water-spirits and to converse with them, as well as to call up the mighty dead and obtain answers to questions addressed to them.” (Having just watched Men in Black 3 again, anyone trying this would do well to remember Agent K’s warning: “Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to.”)


Hoopoe bird. Photo by adriano_cz, Getty Images.

Kunz also reports that, “A frog, engraved on a beryl, will have the power to reconcile enemies and produce friendship where there was discord.” A worthy gemstone to have on hand in a contentious age.

Aquamarines, or beryls in general, have been associated with the limpid white (or bluish) light of the moon and Venus. The connection leads naturally to thoughts of love, and in fact, Kunz reports that ancient magicians performed certain incantations on certain days of the week whilst adorned with certain gems. “Works of Love” were to be performed on Fridays, a day dedicated to Venus, and in performing his art, the magician was to wear a “sky-blue robe” as well as a turquoise, lapis, and “beryl.” With the theme of blue here, one can only assume this would be an aquamarine.

Patrick Murphy aquamarine jewelry

“We look for the finest quality amethyst and ametrine,” says designer Patrick Murphy. “This aqua, on the other hand, has a lovely sleepy appearance due to inclusions.” This almost translucent aquamarine accented with four small diamonds certainly has a mystical appearance. Photo courtesy Patrick Murphy.

An old version of the GIA Colored Stone course says aquas were considered a symbol of happiness and everlasting youth. The stone of love, friendship, and peaceful accord would certainly lead itself to these.

Final note. If you’re as fascinated about gemstone lore as I am, find George Frederick Kunz’s Curious Lore of Precious Stones. Originally published in 1913, it is full of odd information and wonderful old spellings. In these posts, I touch on only the smallest part of what Kunz has to offer.

Sharon Elaine Thompson is a GG and FGA who has been writing about gemstones and jewelry for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 1987. She also writes a line of birthstone romance novels under the name Liz Hartley.

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