An Introduction to the Mineral Beryl
Beryl is a natural mineral that comes in many different varieties but as a gemstone in its own right is relatively unknown. In its purest form beryl is a colourless stone but with the presence of various impurities which occur during its formation shades of red, green, yellow and blue are introduced. When blue, beryl is known as aquamarine whilst green is emerald but being green doesn't give all beryl stones the automatic right to be called emerald. Strict guidelines are in place to check eligibility and if the colour is not evenly spread, intense enough or the shade of green is too light it will simply be known as green beryl.
When pink beryl is cut as a gemstone it's known as morganite having been named after the American banker J.P Morgan. The greenish to yellow coloured stone is heliodor and colourless gemstones are known as goshenite. Red beryl which is by far the rarest variety was originally named bixbite but the name was later removed due to possible confusion with another mineral with a similar name that was discovered by the same mineralogist. The colour of red beryl is caused by trace amounts of manganese and it's one of the world's rarest minerals which can only be found in a few locations worldwide.
Prior to 1969 the mineral beryl was the primary ore of the rare chemical element beryllium but 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 and many of the world's largest and flawless specimens can be found in museum collections around the world.
Beryl which grades 7½ to 8 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness is believed to have been one of the gemstones in high priest breastplate. This religious garment is spoken about in the bible and was worn by the Jewish high priest.
Although aquamarine is the traditional birthstone for the month of October beryl is also considered to be acceptable because it's basically the same stone.
The mineral beryl is mined primarily in Brazil, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and the United States.
The green beryl in our first photo which is from Colombia is on display in the Natural History Museum Los Angeles. Both photographs are courtesy of Stan Celestian. Click either image to be redirected to the original full size photo.