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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk Aug 04, 2006 Updated Jun 04, 2020

Beryl Gemstone Information

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About Beryl - History and Introduction

Beryl is one of the most important gemstone groups. It is abundant in mineral form, but rarely occurs with 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.

Natural Beryl Gemstone
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Identifying Beryl

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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

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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.

World-Famous Beryl

In 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.

Buying Beryl and Determining Beryl Gemstone Value

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Beryl Color

Precious beryl occurs in a variety of colors. The greenish-yellow colored variety is referred to as heliodor or golden beryl. Golden beryl is the most common gem-quality variety of beryl. Colors range from vivid lemon-lime to pale greenish-yellow to golden in color. Golden beryl, or heliodor, owes its color to iron impurities. Beryl can also display ranging levels of pleochroism.

Beryl Clarity and Luster

Beryl can naturally occur in a range of clarity levels from transparent to opaque. Gemstone-quality beryl is transparent. Inclusions are rare for golden beryl and specimens are almost always eye-clean. When cut and polished, golden beryl has an attractive vitreous to waxy luster.

Beryl Cut and Shape

Golden beryl is usually faceted to display its brilliance. It is not typically cut en cabochon, unless it possesses asterism (star effect) or chatoyancy (cat's eye effect). Golden beryl is available in a variety of shapes and cutting styles, including Portuguese cuts and checkerboard cuts. Traditional shapes are most common, including ovals, pears, rounds and cushions, and fancy shapes are also readily available, such as trillions, hearts, briolettes and flower cuts. Beryl is an excellent material used frequently for gemstone carvings and ornamental designs.

Beryl Treatment

Golden beryl is almost always untreated. Pink and white, colorless beryl is not typically treated. Some aquamarine stones may be enhanced with light heat treatment, while emerald is almost always treated with oil resin.

Beryl Gemological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: Al2Be3Si6O18, Aluminum beryllium silicate
Crystal Structure: Hexagonal, hexagonal prisms
Color: Emerald green, slightly yellowish green
Hardness: 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.565 to 1.602
Density: 2.67 to 2.78
Cleavage: Indistinct
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
Double Refraction / Birefringence: -0.006
Luster: Vitreous to waxy
Fluorescence: Typically none

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details on gemology-related terms.

Beryl: Varieties or Similar Gemstones:

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Green Emerald
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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.

Most Popular Similar or Related Gemstone Varieties and Trade Names:

Emerald, aquamarine, morganite, goshenite and precious beryl (all transparent beryl) are the most popular similar or related gemstones trade names.

Lesser-Known Similar or Related Gemstone Varieties and Trade Names:

Bazzite, bixbite, cat's eye beryl, green beryl (not emerald) and pezzottaite are the rarest and lesser-known similar or related gemstones trade names.

Beryl Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Powers

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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.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and is not the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.

Beryl Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas

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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

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How to clean your gemstonesPrecious 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.

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