Aquamarine and Beryl
My mother’s father’s first cousin was named Beryl. This part of the family is from the coal-rich mining towns of West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Beryl is an unusual woman’s name and it stuck me as being interesting and beautiful. It conjures images of the Appalachian mountains where my mother’s family is from. It is a region of coal mining, rhododendron and granite cliffs that jut out from verdant hillsides. Beryl, (beryllium aluminum cyclosilicate), a stone found in this region, is the mother of aquamarine.
Beryl is found in these kinds of mountains often occurring in granite pegmatites. The Smoky mountains are full of these craggy chunks of interlocking crystalline structures. Looming large over the road heading into Erwin Tennessee, along the banks of the Nolichucky River, is a gnarly outcropping with the endearing name, “The Devil’s Looking Glass.” Often wet from rain this formation is the kind of place, a granite mountain-side, that might be a mineral neighborhood of beryls, micas and quartz. It is often in these sorts of places where we find Aquamarine. While aquamarine is more likely to be found in North Carolina, this part of Tennessee is so close to the border that the stone may not notice the change in address.
Beryl can occur as an ore or as a gem. As an ore, it is harvested and the beryllium is extracted for alloys. As a gem it is faceted or cut into cabochons. The dark green beryls are given their rich color from the presence of chromium. These we call emeralds. Light blue, green and gray, sometimes clear beryl is called aquamarine the birthstone for March. Pure beryl is clear and the misty blue color we associate with aquamarine is give its color from the presence of Fe2+ ions, an oxidized iron molecule.
The watery blue stone found so deep in granite mountains around the world is prized for its clear crystalline purity and pleasing heavenly blue color. It harnesses the power of the sea and sky. Wear it for pure pleasure and to stimulate the throat chakra. It reduces fear and mental tension. It is the ancient mountain and the clear intersection where ocean meets the sky.