What's Special About Chrysoberyl?
Chrysoberyl is often given the title of the most underrated gemstone (tanzanite, perhaps unfairly, is thought by many to be the most overrated). That's because chrysoberyl is a rare gem with some outstanding characteristics, but it is so little known that even many gem dealers don't stock it.
Despite its name, chrysoberyl is not a member of the beryl species. The beryls (emerald, aquamarine, golden beryl and morganite) are aluminum beryllium silicates while chrysoberyl is beryllium aluminum oxide. But the chrysoberyl species does have very distinguished members. The chrysoberyl family includes two even rarer gemstones: alexandrite, famous for its color change; and chrysoberyl cat's eye, the original cat's eye gemstone. The term "cat's eye" always refers to chrysoberyl; all other cat's eye gems must be designated by an additional name, such as "cat's eye apatite."
So what makes chrysoberyl so special? For one thing, it is an extremely hard gem, with a rating of 8.5 on the Mohs scale. Only ruby, sapphire and diamond are harder. Chrysoberyl also has a high refractive index, just slightly lower than ruby and sapphire, so it has excellent brilliance. It has a vitreous luster and very clean and transparent specimens can be found. It is always untreated. Yet it sells at very affordable prices, primarily due to its low profile in the gemstone world.
Chrysoberyl was first discovered in 1789 and described and named by a famous German geologist, Abraham Gottlob Werner. Chrysoberyl is normally yellow, yellow-green, or brownish with its color being caused by the presence of iron. It became a popular gemstone for jewelry during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, but its popularity declined as the gem became scarcer.
In gemstone lore, chrysoberyl is associated with discipline and self-control. It is said to promote concentration and the ability to learn and to help the wearer strive for excellence. Chrysoberyl is also said to bring peace of mind, clearer thinking, and increased self-confidence.
Chrysoberyl deposits are found in Brazil, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Russia, United States and Zimbabwe. Most of the supply we have seen recently here in Thailand is the very fine material from Pakistan.
Fine faceted chrysoberyl can be considered as a very good alternative to more expensive yellow sapphire (which is almost always heated), or as a step up from the less expensive peridot, citrine or yellow topaz.
- First Published: February-27-2008
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