Blue Topaz vs Aquamarine – How Can I tell the Difference?

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Known for their dreamy, pastel, vivid blue hues, blue topaz and aquamarine are two gemstones that are beautiful choices for any jewelry! While blue topaz has been the second most popular blue gemstone since the early 2000s, aquamarine is considered more valuable.

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Blue topaz and aquamarine are so similar in appearance that it is practically impossible to tell the two apart just by looking at them. In fact, many fraudulent vendors successfully pass off the less valuable blue topaz as aquamarine.

However, apart from the similarity in appearance, the two stones are very different from each other. In this article, we compare blue topaz and aquamarine side by side and go into the details of the differences between these two gemstones.

blue topaz vs aquamarine side by side

Blue Topaz vs. Aquamarine Origin and History

Aquamarine is a member of the illustrious beryl family and is closely related to the popular gemstones emerald and morganite. It is named after the Latin phrase ‘water of the sea’, no doubt a tribute to its bluish-greenish color. Most of the aquamarine being mined is from Brazil, while Angola, Kenya, Malawi, Russia, Pakistan, and the USA are some other important sources of the gemstone. Aquamarine is quite rare and high-quality and vivid blue stones are even rarer.

Blue topaz is much more commonly found. There are blue topaz deposits in Brazil, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Russia, Zimbabwe, and the USA, among others. Topaz is believed to be named after the Sanskrit word for ‘fire’ tapas as yellow topaz is the most commonly found variety of this stone.

Aquamarine is the birthstone for March-born babies while blue topaz is commonly used as a December birthstone. Both these gemstones have been used in jewelry for centuries and have been valued for their sparkling hues.

Blue Topaz vs. Aquamarine Color

Aquamarine is found in a range of shades from blue to bluish-green but not in any other color.

Aquamarine and Diamond Stud Earrings
Aquamarine and Diamond Stud Earrings by Blue Nile. See them here.

Although the mineral beryl is found in other colors, they have their own names such as emerald for green and morganite for pink. Anything from a light-blue green to a dark-blue color is desirable, although aquamarines with deep saturation and a strong color are the most coveted.

Oval Blue Topaz Ring
Oval Blue Topaz Ring by James Allen. See it here.

Although topaz is found in a range of colors, with colorless topaz being the most commonly found variety in nature, blue topaz is among the most desirable. Blue topaz comes in a variety of blue shades, from faint to deep and vivid blues. Because blue topaz looks so similar to aquamarine, even experts may find it difficult to tell the two apart simply by looking at it. Often, testing is required to distinguish aquamarine and blue topaz.

Blue Topaz vs. Aquamarine Treatments

Both blue topaz and aquamarine are often treated and enhanced to achieve more desirable shades of blue. However, in many cases, topaz is treated to turn it blue whereas aquamarine is naturally blue.

Blue Topaz And Diamond Necklace
Blue Topaz Necklace by James Allen. See it here.

Blue topaz is commonly treated to achieve its strong shades of sparkling blue. In nature, blue topaz is generally pale and watery in color. To acquire the desired strong blue tones, colorless (white) topaz is heat treated. A large proportion of the blue topaz found on the market is actually heat-treated white topaz.

Most aquamarines found in nature contain a greenish-bluish color. However, because blue is the more popular color, these stones are generally heat treated to achieve the blue that customers demand. This does not diminish the value of the stone much, but it is essential that your vendor disclose such information.

Blue Topaz vs. Aquamarine Durability

Blue topaz ranks at 8 on the Mohs scale while aquamarine ranks at 7.5 to 8. Both stones are quite hard and are suited for regular wear.

However, blue topaz has cleavage, which refers to a gemstone’s tendency to crack or break when struck. Due to this feature, it is not very tough and is, therefore, more prone to damage than an aquamarine.

While aquamarine has very good toughness, it can develop internal cracks if exposed to hard blows. Also, aquamarines don’t handle heat well and can fade if exposed to heat sources. Some aquamarines tend to fade over time, but this is not common.

Maintaining and taking care of both stones is important to prolong their life. If you are choosing a blue topaz or aquamarine engagement ring, ensure that it is set in a protective setting, such as a bezel, flush, or halo setting.

Blue Topaz vs Aquamarine Price

Aquamarine is generally much more expensive than blue topaz, with the main reason being that blue topaz is artificially heated whereas aquamarine is natural in color. This makes a big difference for some buyers.

Compare this aquamarine ring with this similar blue topaz ring. Both are surrounded by diamonds and are similar in size with similar workmanship. However, the aquamarine ring is almost double the price of the blue topaz ring.

Now compare this pair of blue topaz studs with this pair of aquamarine studs. Both of these earring sets are identical in design, shape, and size. This time, however, they have identical price tags as well. So while we generalize that aquamarine is more expensive, it all comes down to the piece of jewelry and the workmanship that goes into it.

As a general rule of thumb, though, if you are simply after a beautiful blue stone, then blue topaz is less expensive and just as good as aquamarine. Rather than shell out more money for an aquamarine, it is a practical decision to opt for blue topaz.

Blue Topaz vs. Aquamarine – How to Tell Them Apart

Cushion London Blue Topaz and Aquamarine Ring
Blue Topaz and Aquamarine Ring by Blue Nile. See it here.

Finally, you might be wondering whether the blue gemstone you have is an aquamarine or blue topaz.

To be absolutely certain, it’s best to take your stone to a licensed gemologist. However, there are some small tell-tale signs that distinguish these two which you can identify at home with basic tools.

1. The Inclusion Check

Using a jeweler’s loupe or a powerful magnifying glass, inspect the stone for any visible impurities. Blue topaz generally has more inclusions than aquamarine. Most aquamarines on the market have very good clarity. If you see flaws, scratches, and other nicks, it is likely that you have a topaz.

2. The Color Check

Use the jeweler’s loupe to check out the color of the stone carefully. If it is an aquamarine, you will see greenish tones as well as the dominant blue tones. A blue topaz will only contain a blue tone as it is artificially colored.

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3. The Birefringence Check

Blue topaz shows stronger refraction lines than aquamarine. Hold up your stone close to your eye, or even better, use the jeweler’s loupe. If you can easily see two clear refraction lines in the stone, it is a topaz. This birefringence is almost impossible to see in an aquamarine.

4. Diamond Tester Thermal Test

If you can find a diamond tester, which works with thermal conductivity, you can test to see if your stone conducts heat. Blue topaz, and all beryl gemstones, is a conductor whereas aquamarine is not. If the stone conducts heat, you know for sure it is a blue topaz.

Which stone should I choose?

If appearance is what you’re after, either stone will do. It is pretty much impossible to tell the two apart with the naked eye. If budget is your priority, choose blue topaz, but if you want a rarer, naturally colored blue stone and one that is deemed more valuable, choose aquamarine.

Where to Buy Aquamarine and Blue Topaz

To purchase high-quality aquamarine and blue topaz, check out the collections on James Allen and Blue Nile. While both these retailers are known for their presence in the diamond industry, they have branched out into gemstone jewelry as well and offer very high-quality pieces at reasonable prices. While Blue Nile may have the edge over James Allen in terms of price, James Allen often tends to have exceptional designs.

Amazon is also a great place to take your gemstone search but ensure that you do your due diligence and check the ratings, reviews, and reliability of your chosen vendor.

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