Beryl is a collective term for various, different colored gemstones with similar chemical compositions. All these gemstones species are among the mineral class of Beryls or silicates and germanates:
Well-known varieties include:
Beryl; Latin berillus or beryllus; formerly from the Greek βήρυλλος (virilos); further back, from ancient Indian, vaiḍūrya. In ancient times turquoise-green gemstones were all called Beryl.
Varied. Often colorless or transparent, but also white, light green, olive green, blue-green to blue (Aquamarine), deep green (Emerald), pink or peachy pink (Morganite), greenish-yellow, yellow (Heliodor), rose-orange, red (red Beryl/Bixbite)
Germanates and silicates; structure: cyclo silicates (ring silicates)
Varied; mostly faceted cut. Depending on the variety, special cuts such as the Emerald cut are used. Opaque stones are usually cabochon cut.
Very valuable depending on the stone. More transparent stones fetch a higher price. Color is also a deciding factor in the value.
Aquamarine, Blue Beryl, Emerald, Goshenite, Heliodor (Gold Beryl), Morganite, Red Beryl, Riesling Beryl
Properties – use and history
Since various gemstones in different colors and varying properties belong to Beryl, the use of this gemstone also varies:
- Greece: in ancient Greece, people believed that this gemstone could preserve love within a marriage and enhance prestige. They soon realized that Beryl can break and redirect light.
- Israel: the Jews believed this gemstone could strengthen your faith in God. In Christianity, according to John’s Revelation, the gem is the eighth of twelve foundations of the city wall of Jerusalem.
- Egypt: ancient Egyptians broke down the Emerald, a variety of Beryl, as early as the 13th century BC.
- Pre-Columbian South America: Beryl was considered a valuable commodity.
- Middle Ages: Hildegard von Bingen attributed the healing of poisoning due to snake venom to this gemstone.
- Glasses: Beryls were also processed into lenses and used as eyeglasses.
While in the Middle Ages all clear gems were called the generic term, Beryl; the ancient Hellenes called turquoise-blue gemstones Beryl.
Today, the gemstone is especially important in the metal industry. The gem contains the chemical element beryllium used for alloys, for example, it is used with aluminum in construction material for lightweight yet heavy duty products (aircraft or special alloys in space technology).