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Beryl Gemstones - General information about the beryl gemstone family

Introduction

Beryl is said to be a stone with various colors, and it is this color that causes people to be attracted to gemstones. Color reflects the various moods that one can experience, and it is also known to affect it too. It can excite and also calm a person. The magical colors of minerals are exceptional when seen in gemstones. In the world of gemstones, you will find green colors exemplified in emeralds, and the aquamarines show the whole dimension of blue colors. You can also find the lovely pink colors of Morganite, which seems to bring ladies to their knees in wonderment. However, not many people are aware that all these wonderful colored gemstones all belong to one family. Emeralds, Aquamarines, Morganite and many other colored gemstones belong to a single family; the Beryl. Others in this family include the Golden Beryl, The greenish-yellow Heliodor, The Goshenite, with its magnificent colorless nature, and the Red Beryl, which is said to be as wonderful as the red ruby. Whatever the color these gemstones possess, they all have the same physical and chemical properties, and this is why they are considered to be from the same family.

Now one would wonder where this variety in color comes from. To understand this, you should look at the wonderful and inspiring history of the formation of these gemstones. Millions of years ago, the high temperatures and pressure at the deeper layers of the earth, formed these precious gemstones, Beryl are beryllium-aluminum-silicates, and when they are in their pure from, they are colorless. However, their structure allows them to store trace amounts of other minerals, and it is these foreign substances that give the stones their various colors. These minerals turn a colorless beryl gemstone, into the green, yellow blue, red, and other colored treasures that people hold in high esteem today.

Iron is one of the prominent trace elements that are found in beryl, and when present, it turns the colorless gemstone into a blue aquamarine. This is one of the most popular gemstones in the world, and it has clue colors in all hues that are associated with water. There are fine blues that mimic the blue color of the eye; one can also find a slight tinge of green in most aquamarine stones. This is a gemstone that has been used by various gemstone designers to make a whole series of jewelry collections. This is a gemstone that has great color distribution, and has very few inclusions; it is also a hard stone, and has great brilliance.

Chrome is another trace element that is bound in Beryl. Small amounts if chrome and vanadium, are the ones that are responsible for the green colors that you find in Emeralds. This is said to be the most valuable of the beryl family, and has the most intense, and brilliant green colors that one can ever imagine. When considering emeralds, the small inclusions, cracks and fissures that are found in the stone are not considered to be flaws; these are actually valued since they are said to be a mark of individuality. They are affectionately called the Jardin, or garden, of the emerald, by gemstone collectors.

Manganese is yet another trace element that produces beryl of a wonderful pink color; this is how Morganite is formed. Manganese is purple in color, but when incorporated into the beryl crystal, it gives the stone a very beautiful and feminine pink color. This is the third, most-popular beryl stones, and it was formerly known as pink beryl. It was only after the year 1911 that it was officially christened with the name Morganite. It was given this name in the honor of a famous financier in New York, who was also a gem collector, known as John Piermont Morgan, The beauty of the color is only apparent above certain sizes, and therefore it should be bought in large sizes.

Now, it is possible to have small traces of iron, and other minerals that contain uranium, coming together within a beryl crystals to give it a fantastic intense yellow color. The yellow may be so intense that the beryl will now be known as the golden beryl. When it comes to the physical properties of this beryl, it is identical to that of an Aquamarine. As a rule, the golden beryl is usually found in the same deposits where aquamarines are found. There is a great fascination associated with the various hues of golden beryl, which can range from a weak lemon color, to a very warm and brilliant golden tint. This is a gemstone that rarely has any inclusions.

A different combination of uranium and iron, is also responsible from the greenish yellow color of another beryl variety known as the Heliodor. The name describes the stone very well, since it comes from two Greek words; Helios, which means the sun, and Doron, which means a gift. The stone is therefore said to be a gift of the sun to Mankind.

From time to time, it is possible to find beryl in its pure form, and does not have any trace elements of impurities in the crystal. This gives rise to the colorless beryl variety, which is called Goshenite in the gemstone world. This was a gemstone that was originally found in a place called Goshen in Massachusetts and hence the name. This is a very rare variety of beryl, and therefore is not so significant when it comes to making jewelry. In history, it holds a special place since it was used to correct eyesight and is the precursor of the spectacles that people wear today. In ancient times, spectacles were made from clear beryl.

The name beryl comes from India, and was derived from the Sanskrit language. The word Veruliyam, is an old Indian word which was used to refer to Chrysoberyl; this gemstone got its name from the Greek word beryllos.

Despite the fact that these are gemstones with wonderful color, beryl are very popular gemstones in their own right. These gemstones are known to have a high level of brilliance, and hardness, which are qualities that are highly valued in the gemstones world. They have a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, and this makes them ideal for making jewelry that will not break or crack when subjected to hard knocks.

Typically, beryl crystals have a hexagonal structure, which have vertically striated surfaces. They are mainly found in deposits from central and West Africa, as well as South America. However, they are also found, in smaller amounts, in the USA Russia, Ukraine and Madagascar. The gemstones are then taken to skilled lapidaries who turn the rough stones into wonderful pieces of art. Beryl are usually cut into rectangular and square cuts, which allow for the transparent nature of the stones to allow light to shine through with great brilliance.

An intimate look at beryl varieties

Aquamarine

The name comes from the Latin words Aqua Marina, which means the waters of the sea. This is the beryl variety that has various shades of blue. It comes from areas where you can also find ordinary beryl. In Sri Lanka, you find aquamarine in the gem-gravel placer deposits. There is a clear yellow beryl which comes from Brazil, which has been classified as aquamarine chrysolite. There is a deep blue variety of aquamarine, perhaps the most precious, which also goes by the name of Maxixe. This is an aquamarine that is associated with the deposits in Madagascar. Maxixe has a certain weakness in that it loses the blue color, when exposed to heat or too much sunlight. Irradiation can be used to get the color back.

The light blue color of aquamarine is brought about by the presence of iron 2 ions. When the element is iron 3, then the stone gets a golden yellow color. When both these ions are present, then the color becomes a dark blue such as that seen in Maxixe. The reason why Maxixe loses color when exposed to heat or sunlight is thought to be due to the turning of iron 3 into iron 2. It is possible to get a dark blue Maxixe variety by irradiating pink, yellow or green beryl using high energy particles such as those produced by X-rays, Neutrons and Gamma Rays.

The Summit of Mt. Antero, which is found in the Sawatch Mountain Range in Colorado is the most prominent source of aquamarine in the United States of America. Other deposits can be found in Wyoming, in the Big Horn Mountains, close to Powder Pass. The Sawtooth Range close to Stanley in Idaho is another place where aquamarine is mined; here the mineral is found in wilderness areas which hinder the collection of the gemstones. In Brazil there are several mines spread across the country in the states of Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais and Bahia; small amounts are found in Rio Grande do Norte. There are other mines in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia and Colombia.

Marambaia, a region in the Minas Gerais state of Brazil is the home of the largest gemstone-quality aquamarine ever mined. It was measured at 110 kilos and had a size of 19 inches in length and 17 inches in diameter. The Dom Pedro Aquamarine, which is how found at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History is the largest cut aquamarine gemstone in existence.

Emerald

This is the green variety of beryl that owes its color to the presence of chromium, and sometimes vanadium. The origin of the name is very interesting; it comes via a Middle English word, Emeraude, which was imported from an Old French word Esmeraude, which comes from the Medieval Latin word Esmeraldus, which finally comes from the Greek word Smaragdos, which literally means green gem. The original source of the name is thought to be either the Semitic word Izmargad or the Sanskrit word Marakata, which all refer to the color green. The fat that emeralds have a high level of inclusion, means that they are very brittle and can break easily.

In ancient times, emeralds were mined in Egypt and Austria, and the Northern Pakistani area of Swat. There is one type of emerald, called the Trapiche Emerald, which is very rare and is found in mines in Colombia. This is a type of emerald which has a star pattern within the crystal. It has spokes, made of carbon impurities, which form a star that gives the emerald a six pointed start pattern. The name Trapiche comes from the grinding wheel that is used to process sugarcane in this region.

The emeralds from Colombia have great transparency and fire, and they are the most prized on the market. The main areas where the rarest emeralds come from are Chivor, Coscuez and Muzo in Colombia. You can also find fine emeralds which come from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Brazil, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Russia. In the United States of America, you get fine emeralds coming from Hiddenite in North Carolina. Emeralds were also discovered in the Yukon on 1998.

Emeralds are rare and precious gemstones and it is this that provided the impetus that drove the development of Synthetic Emeralds. It is possible to get Flux-growth and Hydrothermal synthetic emeralds in the market today, Carrol Chatham was the first to produce the first commercially viable synthetic emeralds. Pierre Gilson Jr. is another individual who produced flux emeralds in large qualities. Which have been sold since 1964. Gilson used natural colorless beryl seeds which get coated on both sides of the crystal. The growth of these synthetic emeralds progresses at the rate of 1 mm in a month, which means that in 7 months, one can get an emerald of about 7 mm in thickness. The green color of emeralds comes from the presence of chromium, and the presence of vanadium, too, produces emeralds that have a very deep green color.

Golden Beryl

These are the beryl variety that have a pale yellow to brilliant gold tint. The golden beryl has very few inclusion, unlike emeralds. At times, the golden beryl is mistakenly classified as Heliodor, but the golden beryl is ideally that which has pure yellow or golden tints with no other color seen, whereas heliodor has greenish hues in the color. The golden yellow color is brought about by iron 3 ions, with some little but of uranium. Both the heliodor and golden beryl are highly used as jewelry stones. The Hall of Gems, which is in Washington DC, is the home of the largest cut golden beryl, which weighs in at 2054 carats and is flawless in clarity.

Goshenite

This is the beryl variety that is colorless in nature. It gets its name from the place where it was first discovered, and this is Goshen in Massachusetts. Since the colored beryl derive their color from the presence of trace elements of impurities, it is safe to say that the Goshenite is the purest form of beryl ever. However, this is not always the case, since clear beryl may have impurities, but due to some factors, the color is not displayed. The name Goshenite is almost stopping to be used in the naming of beryl, but it is still used regularly in gemstone markets and auctions. Most beryl localities will have some traces of Goshenite stones. In ancient times, Goshenite was used to make eyeglasses, and other lenses, due to the clear and colorless nature of the stone.

Morganite

The names Pink Beryl, Rose Beryl, Pink Emerald and Cesian or Caesian beryl are names that are used to describe Morganite; this is a rare light pink to rose-colored beryl of gemstone quality. It is possible to find yellow and orange varieties of Morganite, and these have some color banding. Morganite may have patches of yellow which can be removed through the treatment of the stone using heat. The pink color is brought about due to trace amounts of manganese 2 ions.

The first discovery of fine pink beryl was found on an island which is found off the coast of Madagascar, and this was in 1910. It was also to be found at Pala California, in the presence of other gemstones such as Kunzite and Tourmaline. The financier of the expedition that discovered the gemstone, J.P. Morgan was given the honor by the New York Academy of Sciences, by having the stone named after him.

The largest Morganite ever found, was called The Rose of Maine, and was uncovered on October 7th 1989, at the Bennett Quarry in Buckfield, Maine. The crystal was originally orange in color, and had a length of 9 inches and was 12 inches in diameter. It weighed in at over 50 pounds in weight.

Red beryl

This is also known as the scarlet or red emerald. It was first uncovered in 1904 and it was found at Maynard’s Claim or Pismire Knolis, at Thomas Range in Juab County of Utah. The red color of the red beryl is due to the presence of Manganese 3 ions. Initially the gemstone was called Bixbite, but this was soon discarded to avoid confusion with the mineral bixbyite, which was named after a mineralogist known as Maynard Bixby.

Red Beryl can only be found in very few locations and it is very rare. It is found in Wah Wah Mountains in Beaver County, Utah and the Paramount Canyon and Round Mountain areas in Sierra County, New Mexico. The deposits found in New Mexico do not have many gem-grade stones. Another area is Juab County in Utah.

When it comes to gem-grade red beryl, the highest number come from the Ruby Violet Chain, which is found in the Wah Wah Mountains of the Thomas mountain Range in Mid-Western Utah. The deposit was discovered by Lamar Hodges of Fillmore, Utah in 1958; incidentally he was looking for uranium. The prices of this rare red gemstone can go as high as 10,000 dollars per carat, for finished gemstones. Red beryl has been confused with a caesium analogue of beryl known as Pezzottaite, and is found in Madagascar and Afghanistan, in recent years. The two gemstones can be cut, and look alike, only that they will have different refractive indices, and they both have different crystal systems. Pezzottaite has a trigonal crystal system, while red beryl has a hexagonal one. One can also come across synthetic red beryl.

Gem beryl is found commonly in pegmatite and in some metamorphic rocks but red beryl is found in Topaz-bearing Rhyolites. The formation of red beryl is brought about by the crystallization of the stone under low pressure and high temperatures during the pneumatolitic phase. This process occurs along fractures and near the surface of the rhyolite in miarolitic cavities. Red beryl is also associated with BixByite, Orthoclase, Topaz, Quartz, Hematite, Pseudobrookite and Spessartine.



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