Treatments and Fakes

Aquamarine Treatments and Simulants:


Most aquamarine is heat treated to improve its color.  Natural (untreated) aquamarine is most common in very pale shades of blue and yellowish teal.  When heated, the color can turn into the intense “aqua blue” that we associate with them.  A natural (untreated) aquamarine that has a strong blue color will always be more than a similar aquamarine that has been treated.  They are, however, difficult to find and are very expensive.

Simulants or “Fake” Aquamarine:

Glass: Aquamarine is sometimes imitated by blue or teal glass.  A lot of small scratches on the surface of the stone (if old) can indicate that it is glass and not aquamarine.  If there are any tiny bubbles inside the stone, it is also, definitely glass. One neat trick you can use is to place the stone against your forehead.  An aquamarine will feel cool, while a peice of glass will feel room temperature.  Otherwise, gemological equipment should be used.

Synthetic: True “synthetic” aquamarine is not really prevalent on the market.  Synthetic aquamarine would be real aquamarine, just produced in a lab instead of in the earth.  However, since this process is expensive and aquamarine is not valuable enough to make it financially worth it, we don’t really see it.

Synthetic spinel: We do see “synthetic aquamarine” on product descriptions, but what it really is usually, is synthetic blue spinel.  Blue spinel is much easier to “create” than aquamarine.  To tell the difference, you can closely examine the color.  Blue spinel does not have the characteristic pleochroism of aquamarine.  (Pleochroism is the effect of having more than one color, depending on the angle of light through the gemstone.)

Glass: Here is a peice of aquamarine colored glass.  You can see by the scratched appearance of the surfaces of this gem that it is likely glass.  The reason is that glass is softer than aquamarine (beryl). Natural Aquamarine:  Here is a large (15 carat) aquamarine that is unheated.  It had this strong blue color naturally, without treatment.  Such an aquamarine can cost tens of thousands of dollars. “Synthetic” Aquamarine:  This is actually a peice of blue spinel.  Most spinel imposters can’t quite capture the exact color of aquamarine.  But gemological testing is needed to be conclusive.