Beryl Gemstone Information
About Beryl - History and Introduction
Beryl is one of the most important mineral groups. It is abundant, but rarely occurs in transparent gem-quality material. Transparent specimens are referred to as 'precious beryl'. The most famous member of the beryl family is green emerald, followed secondly by blue aquamarine. Even though beryl is one of the most important mineral groups, golden beryl is not very well-known by the general public. Other popular beryls include pink 'morganite' and white, or colorless, 'goshenite'. Red beryl is the rarest variety of beryl and it is known in the trade as 'bixbite'.
Golden beryl is sometimes referred to as 'heliodor', but many argue that heliodor and golden beryl are not the same gem. Heliodor is typically used to describe lighter, weaker colored greenish yellow beryl, while 'golden beryl' is reserved for vivid and intense lemon-lime like specimens. However, since there is no official distinction, heliodor and golden beryl are usually considered to be one and the same. Nowadays, the trade name of heliodor is rarely used.
Beryl in its purest form is completely colorless (goshenite). Trace impurities and coloring agents within colorless beryl are responsible for the many different colored varieties of beryl. Golden beryl's color is owed to iron impurities. Without trace elements and impurities, beryl would be rather ordinary and average, except for its superior hardness.
World-Famous BerylIn 1913, the first significant deposit of golden beryl was discovered in Namibia by a German mining company. The material discovered was named 'heliodor', a word derived from the Greek language meaning 'gift from the sun'. Lucas von Cranach, one of the era's most prestigious jewelry designers, was asked to create an exquisite jewelry set for the then current German Emperor and King of Prussia, Kaiser Wilhem II. It was because of this fantastic exposure that golden beryl earned its fame as a precious gem. However, soon after the war, heliodor was almost completely forgotten about. One of the world's largest cut beryl stones is a 2,054 carat flawless, golden colored beryl. The exquisite gem is currently on display in Washington D.C.'s, "Hall of Gems", located within the Smithsonian Institution.
Identifying Beryl Back to Top
There are a number of different gems that bear similar resemblance to golden beryl, including apatite, quartz, feldspar, topaz and tourmaline. However, beryl can usually be easily identified and distinguished from similar gems through basic testing. One of the easiest methods to identify beryl is by testing specific gravity (density) and hardness. Beryl is significantly harder than apatite, quartz and feldspar, but slightly softer than topaz.
Beryl, topaz and tourmaline also have very different crystal systems and formations. Tourmaline's crystal structure is usually heavily striated; topaz has perfect cleavage and eight-sided striations, whereas beryl has a distinct six-sided hexagonal crystal structure which makes it very easily identifiable.
Beryl Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Beryl specimens from Brazil are known to be of the highest quality. Brazilian beryl typically exhibits excellent clarity and specimens from Brazil tend to be much larger than other sources. Other significant mining locations include Madagascar, Namibia, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Aquamarine, the birthstone for March, is also sourced mainly from Brazil and Karur, India.
Buying Beryl and Determining Beryl Gemstone Value Back to Top
Beryl Gemological Properties:Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details on gemology-related terms.
Beryl: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Beryl is a very large group of minerals. There are several closely related gemstones, typically classified by color and impurities within. There are also many similar-looking gemstones, such as imperial topaz, tourmaline, apatite, quartz and some feldspar gems. However, gems that are close in appearance are easily identifiable by testing for hardness and inspection of crystal formation.
Beryl Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Golden beryl, or heliodor, is a lesser-known gem, therefore it lacks the fame, myth, legend and astrology associations of better known gems. Despite the lack of major awareness, golden beryl does still have its place in the metaphysical world of crystal power.
Golden beryl is known as 'The stone of the sun' and the term 'heliodor' was taken from the Greek language. Greeks believed that golden beryl contained the actual warmth and energy of the sun. Heliodor has been worn and used as talismans for many centuries. Golden beryl is said to boost the drive and determination to succeed of its wearer, and also protect its wearer from psychological manipulation by others. It is believed by some to deter spirits, ghosts and dark forces.
Physically, golden beryl is thought to strengthen the immune system and is thought to be useful for treating disorders of the liver, spleen and pancreas. Golden beryl is best for stimulating both the crown and solar plexus chakras, but it can be used on all chakras. Heliodor is thought to honor the Greek Goddess of Spring, Persephone. Golden beryl also honors Tiamat, the Sumero-Babylonian Goddess of Chaos. Heliodor does not represent any official month as a birthstone, but it is known as the stone of the moon.
Beryl Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Golden beryl is an excellent gemstone for any type of jewelry application. It is considered to be both hard and durable. It also has a good level of fire and brilliance which makes it an ideal gemstone for open settings. It is available in larger sizes and very much affordable compared to other gemstones. Golden beryl is perfect for setting in large gemstone rings or pendants. Since it is almost always free of inclusions and has intense and vivid color, it is best set into designs that allow light to pass through easily.
Golden beryl is an excellent gem for beaded and tumbled jewelry, such as stranded necklaces and bracelets. Golden beryl is often used as an alternative to rare and expensive imperial topaz. Beryl in general is one of the most popular gemstones in the world and it is a favorite among jewelers because of its hardness, durability, affordability and beauty. Unlike many other rarer colored stones, beryl is often available in local jewelry stores (usually sold as emerald or aquamarine). Usually, beryl stones will be preset as earrings, pins, brooches, class rings and other mainstream jewelry designs.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.
Beryl Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Precious beryl is sensitive to pressure and vulnerable to household chemicals. Beryl is one of the more durable gemstone types, but it does still require some careful handling. Avoid wearing beryl jewelry when working with harsh chemicals or household cleaners, such as bleach or acid. When cleaning beryl gemstones, warm soapy water and tissue or a soft cloth can be used. Be sure to rinse the stones well to remove all soapy residue. It is best to avoid the use of ultrasonic cleaners.
Remove precious beryl jewelry when exercising, cleaning, playing sports or engaging in vigorous physical activities. Beryl can easily scratch other gems, such as common quartz and feldspar, so avoid direct contact with other gem types. To prevent scratches, store beryl separately and away from gemstones and gemstone jewelry, such as topaz, sapphire and diamond. You can store your gemstones or gemstone jewelry by wrapping them in soft cloth and placing them into a fabric-lined box.
- First Published: August-04-2006
- Last Updated: May-16-2014
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