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Beryl (emerald, aquamarine, heliodor)

Beryl (emerald, aquamarine, heliodor)


Hardness: 7.5 – 8

Density: 2.63 – 2.8

Chemical symbol: Al2Be3[Si6O18]

Crystalline system: hexagonal

Color: colorless, white, pink, blue, green, red, yellow. Transparent, glassy glitter.



Quick identification:


Glass is softer. Diamond is much harder. Cubic zirconia has a higher birefringence. Doublets can be distinguished from the side view (they have separate layers).

Detailed identification:


Laymen without any experience or special equipment are not able to distinguish beryl from other diamonds, especially imitations. The main method of identification used is color differentiation (e.g. a green stone is assumed to be an emerald, cubic zirconia, tourmaline, green glass etc.) and then by using the process of elimination we can narrow it down (glass is eliminated by hardness tests, cubic zirconia by its higher birefringence, tourmaline based on its specific color, etc.). Spinel is eliminated based on the intense fluorescence it has under UV light.


How to determine the authenticity of beryl (emerald, aquamarine, heliodor) without equipment:

(quick identification – may not be reliable)


a) Try the hardness of the stone (it should make a scratch on glass).


b) To distinguish beryl from cubic zirconia check the birefringence of the gem – cubic zirconia has a much higher birefringence.


c) Natural stones always have defects, inclusions, refractions and so on, which are visible under a microscope or sometimes even with the eye. Artificial stones are flawless. However, if a gem contains gas bubbles it is glass.


d) Try to put the stone on your eyelid – a real beryl remains cool for a long time. Imitations (especially glass ones) warm up quickly.


e) Put a drop of water on the stone. On the real stone, the drop will retain its shape, even when it is moved up and down. On a glass imitation, the drop will spread quickly.


f) A specific emerald test. If an emerald is put into boiling water, it shines with green light rays. Imitations do not produce any light rays.



Interesting facts about beryls (emerald, aquamarine, heliodor – gold beryl):


1. The word emerald comes from the Latin word "smaragdos," which means "green."


2. The green forms of beryl are called emeralds.


3. Natural emeralds have more smaller defects than other natural gemstones. These small defects are the proof of their authenticity.


4. In ancient Egypt, emeralds were called spring stones because of their color. The stones were associated with rebirth, fertility and help during conception.


5. Emerald is traditional stone of the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.


6. The first historically known emerald mines were the mines of Cleopatra, which were rediscovered in 1818 in northern Egypt. Unfortunately, these mines were exhausted long ago.


7. In mysticism, the emerald was believed to give the ability to predict future events.


8. Pliny wrote: "Noting is more intense than the green of emerald" and "sight is refreshed and resorted by gazing upon this stone." Based on this advice the Roman Emperor Nero wore emerald sunglasses while watching gladiator matches.


9. Emeralds were extremely popular among the Indian maharajas. They engraved sacred texts on them and wore them as talismans.


10. One of the largest emeralds is the "Mogul" with total weight of 217.80 carats.


11. The word aquamarine comes from the Latin meaning sea water.


12. In mysticism, aquamarine was used to treat toothaches, sunburn, sore throats and fevers.


13. It is said that aquamarine renews the love of age-old marriage and is the traditional gift of the 16th and 19th wedding anniversaries.


14. The beautiful color of aquamarine is quite sensitive. If you leave aquamarine under strong sunlight for too long, it tends to lose its color.


15. It is said that if you dream of aquamarine, you will meet new friends.


16. In the Middle Ages, it was believed the aquamarine removed the effects of poisons.


17. Sailors wore aquamarine to protect themselves and to get rid of seasickness.


18. Wearing aquamarine brings you happiness and gives you courage and wisdom.


19. Word heliodor comes from the Greek "helio" and "doron," which means "gift from the sun."


20. Heliodors allegedly improve your intuition and communication skills.


21. The largest polished heliodor (gold beryl) is now in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., and weighs 2,054 karats.

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