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, whereas chrysoberyl is beryllium aluminum oxide. However, the chrysoberyl species does have some very distinguished members. The chrysoberyl family includes two even rarer gemstones; alexandrite, which is 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 are referred to by an additional varietal 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 was described and named by famous German geologist, Abraham Gottlob Werner. Chrysoberyl is normally yellow, yellow-green, or brownish. Its color is caused by the presence of iron. Chrysoberyl became a popular gemstone for jewelry during Victorian and Edwardian times, 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. Additionally, it is thought 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. A great deal of the chrysoberyl gemstones that we see in Thailand are very fine materials from Pakistan.
- First Published: February-27-2008
- Last Updated: August-23-2017
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