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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk Sep 27, 2006 Updated Jan 16, 2019

Chrysoberyl Gemstone Information

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About Chrysoberyl - History and Introduction

Chrysoberyl is a rare and exotic group of gemstones first discovered in 1789 by renowned geologist, Abraham Gottlob Werner. 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. This is typically the only variety traded as just 'chrysoberyl', while other varieties of chrysoberyl are traded under very specific names, which include 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 is classified as 'cat's eye alexandrite'.

The name 'chrysoberyl' was originally derived from the Greek words, 'chryso' and 'beryl', meaning 'golden' and 'green', 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. Today, the term 'chrysolite' is no longer commonly used. Despite its name, chrysoberyl is not a beryl, although it shares a similar appearance and composition. Chrysoberyl is classified as its own independent mineral group and species - beryl is aluminum beryllium silicate, whereas chrysoberyl is beryllium aluminum oxide. Chrysoberyl is a minor ore of the element beryllium (Be) and occurs in granite and granite pegmatites.

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Identifying Chrysoberyl

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Most gemstones have a crystalline structure that can help to identify minerals and materials. Chrysoberyl belongs to the orthorhombic crystal system, forming with tabular crystals 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 that exhibit color change properties are traded and identified as alexandrite, while chrysoberyl that exhibits chatoyancy is traded as chrysoberyl cat's eye or 'cymophane'.

Chrysoberyl Origin and Gemstone Sources

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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 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 extremely valuable.

Buying Chrysoberyl and Determining Chrysoberyl Gemstone Value

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Chrysoberyl Color

Common chrysoberyl occurs in a variety of light colors, including green to yellow and golden-yellow to yellowish-green, along with various shades of brown and red. Chrysoberyl is colored by iron, while color change chrysoberyl (alexandrite) is colored by chromium. Some 'common' chrysoberyl may also contain chromium, but unless they exhibit color change, they are not traded as alexandrite. The rare minty bluish-green material from Tanzania is colored by vanadium.

Chrysoberyl Clarity and Luster

Chrysoberyl typically exhibits excellent transparency, although some lower grade material can occur translucent to opaque. Chrysoberyl has an extremely attractive, vitreous luster when cut and polished and it's known to occur with moderate to high levels of clarity, making eye-clean specimens quite common.

Chrysoberyl Cut and Shape

Chrysoberyl is typically faceted, with mainly brilliant or step cuts, and can be found in a variety of shapes, including oval, cushion, round and octagon (emerald) shapes. Fancy shapes, such as hearts and trillions, are quite rare, especially in calibrated sizes, but they can be found.

Chrysoberyl Treatment

'Common' chrysoberyl is not typically enhanced in any way, but some color change chrysoberyl may be dyed or oiled to enhance color, though this is not a common practice.

Chrysoberyl Gemological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: BeAl2O4 - Beryllium aluminum oxide
Crystal Structure: Orthorhombic; thick-tabled, intergrown triplets
Color: Golden yellow, green-yellow, green, brownish, red, colorless
Hardness: 8.5 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.746 to 1.763
Density: 3.70 to 7.78
Cleavage: Good
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
Double Refraction or Birefringence: 0.007 to 0.011
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Usually none; green: weak; dark-red

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

Chrysoberyl: Varieties or Similar Gemstones:

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Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl
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Chrysoberyl is a minor ore of beryllium and has several mineral associations, including muscovite mica, biotite and microcline. There are also a variety of gemstones that appear similar, such as golden yellow sapphire, citrine, lemon quartz, imperial topaz, heliodor (golden beryl), tourmaline, demantoid garnet and grossular garnet.

Most Popular Similar or Related Gemstone Varieties and Trade Names:

Chrysoberyl cat's eye, also known as cymophane, and color change alexandrite are the most popular varieties of chrysoberyl.

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

Cat's eye alexandrite (cymophane alexandrite), pink alexandrite, yellow alexandrite (cymophane) and vanadium chrysoberyl are among the lesser-known varieties of chrysoberyl.

Chrysoberyl Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Healing Powers

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In the world of gems and crystal healing lore, chrysoberyl is a stone of discipline and self-control. It is thought to increase concentration and learning ability, while enhancing a 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 world. 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.

Color change chrysoberyl (alexandrite) is an official birthstone for January. It is also considered an official 55th wedding 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.

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.

Chrysoberyl Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas

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Most chrysoberyl is surprisingly affordable, especially when compared to other similar gems like golden sapphire or imperial topaz. Owing to its superior hardness and durability, it is a favorite for many fine jewelers and jewelry designers around the world. Its 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; it is often worn in anniversary rings and eternity bands.

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.

Chrysoberyl Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning

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How to clean your gemstonesChrysoberyl is durable enough to be cleaned using ultrasonic cleaners or steamers, but care should always be taken when using these methods. Chrysoberyl is considered to be extremely hard and durable, but it 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 vigorous 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.

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