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Introduction to the Mineral Beryl

green beryl mineral variety emerald in a museum display cabinet

Blue is Aquamarine Green is Emerald

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.  With the presence of impurities which occur during its formation shades of red green yellow and blue are introduced.

Blue beryl is known as aquamarine whilst green is emerald.  Not all green beryl however is emerald.  Strict guidelines are in place to check eligibility.  If the colour is not evenly spread, intense enough or the shade is too light it will just be known as green beryl.

Pink beryl is known as morganite, greenish yellow varieties are heliodor. Stones that are colourless are known as goshenite.

Red beryl which is by far the rarest variety was originally named bixbite.  The name was later removed due to possible confusion with another mineral with a similar name discovered by the same mineralogist.

The red comes from trace amounts of manganese.  Red beryl is one of the world's rarest minerals.  It can only be found in a few locations worldwide.

blue beryl mineral variety aquamarine

Prior to 1969 beryl was the primary ore of the rare chemical element beryllium.  Since then this exceptionally light weight metal has mostly been extracted from bertrandite.

Although it 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 specimens are housed in museum collections around the world.

Beryl which grades 7.5 to 8 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness is believed to have been one of the gemstones in 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. 

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

Article Photos

The green beryl in our first photo is from Colombia. This piece is on display in the Natural History Museum Los Angeles. The second photo is blue beryl from Afghanistan. Blue beryl is aquamarine. Both photographs are courtesy of Stan Celestian.

Images are clickable are redirect to the original non-compressed photo.

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