Chrysoberyl Gemstone Information and Education
About Chrysoberyl - History and Introduction
Chrysoberyl is a rare and exotic family of gemstones first discovered in 1789 by renowned geologist, Abraham Gottlob Werner. The name 'Chrysoberyl' was originally derived from Greek words, 'Beryl' and 'Chryso', meaning 'green' and 'golden', respectively. For many years, Chrysoberyl was often referred to as 'chrysolite', a historical name used to refer to any golden-green to olive colored gemstone, but today, the term 'chrysolite' has slowly faded from use and is no longer commonly used. Despite its suggestive name, Chrysoberyl is not a Beryl, although they share similar appearance and composition, Chrysoberyl is classified as its own independent mineral group and species -- beryl is an aluminum beryllium silicate, whereas Chrysoberyl is a beryllium aluminum oxide. Chrysoberyl is a minor ore of the element beryllium (Be) and occurs in geological environments of granite and granite pegmatites.
The Chrysoberyl species includes a few different gemstone varieties. The most common variety is a transparent to translucent form colored by iron, which typically occurs in shades of yellowish to light green color. This is typically the only variety traded as just 'Chrysoberyl', while other varieties of Chrysoberyl trade under very specific trade names, which includes both Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye (Cymophane), the chatoyant variety of Chrysoberyl; and Alexandrite, a rare color change variety named after Russian Czar Alexander II. In very rare cases, color change chrysoberyl may also exhibit a cat's eye effect, which are classified as 'Cat's Eye Alexandrite'.
Most gemstones have a crystalline structure which can help identify minerals and materials. Chrysoberyl belongs to the orthorhombic crystal system, forming with tabular crystal habits and in slender prisms. Crystal twins and triplets are quite common. Common Chrysoberyl is colored by iron, while color change varieties obtain their color through chromium. Through spectroscopic analysis, Chrysoberyl can easily be identified and distinguished from other similar materials. From within its own species, specimens which exhibit color change abilities are traded and identified as Alexandrite, while Chrysoberyl which exhibits chatoyancy is traded as Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye or 'Cymophane'.
Chrysoberyl Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Chrysoberyl is a very rare mineral and gemstone quality deposits are even rarer. Some of the most notable sources include Brazil's Minas Gerais, Esperito Santo and Bahia; the Mogok and Pegu regions of Burma (Myanmar); Sri Lanka, most particularly in Ratnapura; India, Tanzania, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe and the United States.
Most color change chrysoberyl is sourced from the Ural Mountains of Russia near Sverdlovsk, while most Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye is sourced from Brazil, China, India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. A rare colorless variety of chrysoberyl is known to occur only in Burma, and Tanzania is also known to produce a very rare, bluish green chrysoberyl which is considered extremely valuable.
Buying Chrysoberyl and Determining Chrysoberyl Gemstone Value Back to Top
Chrysoberyl Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details on gemology-related terms.
Chrysoberyl: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Chrysoberyl is a minor ore of beryllium and has several mineral associations, including muscovite mica, biotite, microcline. There are also a variety of similar gemstones by way of appearance, such as golden yellow sapphire, citrine, lemon quartz, imperial topaz, heliodor (golden beryl), tourmaline, as well as demantoid and grossularite garnet.
Chrysoberyl Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
In the world of gems and crystal lore, Chrysoberyl is a stone of discipline and self-control. It is thought to be able to increase concentration and learning ability, while enhancing one's desire for excellence. Chrysoberyl can help increase self-confidence and bring peace of mind. It is believed to enhance creativity, imagination and intuition. Chrysoberyl is believed to bridge the gap between both the physical and spiritual worlds. It is known to carry a strong and warm healing energy and is thus associated with the crown chakra. Since ancient times, chrysoberyl has been regarded as a protection stone and is often associated with money and wealth. In fact, Russian legends claim that color change chrysoberyl can bring good luck, fortune and love to those who wear it for its great power.
Color Change Chrysoberyl (Alexandrite) is an official birthstone for January. It is also considered an official 55th Marriage Anniversary stone.
One of the most famous chrysoberyl stones is a 45 carat faceted gem known as 'The Hope', currently displayed in London. The largest color change chrysoberyl discovered was a 1,876 carat stone mined from Sri Lanka, and the largest faceted stone is a 66 carat specimen residing in Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian collection.
Chrysoberyl Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Most Chrysoberyl is surprisingly affordable, especially when compared to other similar gems like golden sapphire or imperial topaz. Owed to its superior hardness and durability, it is a favorite for many fine jewelers and jewelry designers around the world. Their highly desirable color is suitable for both men and women.
Cat's eye varieties of Chrysoberyl and Alexandrite are especially popular for use in men's jewelry, particularly in the form of cabochon rings. Transparent, golden Chrysoberyl is very popular for use in earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets and rings. For those fortunate enough to celebrate 55 years of marriage, color change chrysoberyl, or alexandrite, is the official anniversary gemstone and so they are often used for wearing of anniversary and eternity bands.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary with size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.
Gemstone Caring and Cleaning for your Chrysoberyl and Gemstone Jewelry Back to Top
Chrysoberyl is durable enough to be cleaned using ultrasonic cleaners or steamers, but care should always be taken when using these methods. They are considered one of the most durable and hardest gemstones, but they can still be easily scratched by harder gems such as sapphire and diamond. For simple maintenance, you can wipe your gemstones down using a soft cloth or brush and plain soapy water. Avoid the use of bleach and other harsh household cleaners and be sure to rinse your stones well to ensure all soapy residue is removed.
Always remove jewelry before exercising, playing sports or performing any physical household chores. When removing jewelry, it is important to not pull from the stone, because doing so can weaken the metal or prongs, which can eventually lead to a lost stone. When storing your Chrysoberyl gems and jewelry, store them separately and away from other gemstones. If possible, wrap them individually with a soft cloth and place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.
- First Published: September-27-2006
- Last Updated: November-29-2013
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