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Beryl Stone Properties, Facts and Photos

green beryl mineral variety emerald in a museum display cabinet

What is the Mineral Beryl?

Beryl is a natural mineral that comes in many different varieties. As a gemstone in its own right, it's relatively unknown.

In its purest form beryl is colourless but trace impurities of other minerals cause a variety of colours. Each colour has its own unique name.

Although aquamarine is often described as blue beryl, its colour varies from light blue to greenish-blue to almost green. Green beryl with a deep saturated colour and darker tone is known as emerald. Where the shade of green is not intense enough or too light, it's just known as green beryl.

Strict guidelines ensure that green beryl meets all the necessary requirements before being classified as emerald.

Pink beryl is known as morganite although naturally, it's rarely distinctively pink. Beryl with a greenish-yellow or golden-yellow colour is known as heliodor.

Colourless beryl, mainly when cut as a gemstone, is known as goshenite.

Red beryl is one of the world's rarest minerals. It was originally called bixbite, but the name was later changed due to possible confusion with another mineral with a similar name. Ironically both were discovered by the same mineralogist.

blue beryl mineral variety aquamarine

Before 1969, the mineral beryl was the primary ore of the rare chemical element beryllium. Since then, this exceptionally lightweight metal has mostly been extracted from the mineral bertrandite. Although beryllium can also be found in a number of other minerals, most are extremely rare.

Gemstones cut from beryl are highly sought after. Many of the world's largest and flawless stones are housed in museum collections around the world.

Beryl is a lustrous and relatively hard mineral that grades 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness. It's believed to have been one of the gemstones in the high priest breastplate. This biblical garment was worn by the first Jewish high priest.

Although aquamarine is the traditional birthstone for the month of October, beryl can be used as an alternative because it's basically the same stone. The same applies to emerald which is the birthstone for May.

Beryl is mined primarily in Brazil, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and the United States.

The Name Beryl

The name Beryl comes from old French. The Latin is 'beryllus' while the Greek is 'bēryllos.'

In Medieval Latin, the word 'berillus' was used for any valuable stone with pale green colour. It was also used for fine crystal and spectacles.  

The lenses in spectacles made by Italian monks in the 13th century were produced from beryl.

The German for 'eye glasses' which is 'die brille' comes from the world 'berille' meaning 'beryl'.
the mineral beryl, variety aquamarine. A fine grade translucent piece displayed on a black background

Article Pictures

The green beryl in our first picture is from Colombia. It's housed in the Natural History Museum Los Angeles.

The second is blue beryl (aquamarine) from Afghanistan, the third is blue beryl (aquamarine) from China.

All three photographs are courtesy of Stan Celestian. The images are clickable and redirect to the original photo.

Pop-up images: Heliodor - Courtesy of Steve Blyskal. Goshenite (with elbaite) - Courtesy of Stan Celestian.  

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