Beryl’s name comes from the Ancient Greek beryllos which once was applied to all green gemstones, but later used for all varieties of beryl. Besides as a gemstone, beryl is the principle source of beryllium. They use it to manufacture light-weight metal alloys of high tensile strength and superior hardness and fatigue resistance. Emerald, a member of the beryl family is considered one of the traditional four precious gemstones.
When pure, beryl is colorless (goshenite), but beryl comes in a variety of colors including; blue to blue-green (aquamarine), green (emerald), yellow (heliodor commonly known as golden beryl), red (bixbite), pink (morganite) when tinted by impurities.
Beryl is found most often in silica rich granites and granite pegmatites in association with quartz, feldspars and muscovite. In these pegmatites beryl can be the varieties of aquamarine, heliodor and morganite. Beryl can also be found in mica schists of metamorphic-hydrothermal deposits, where the schists form by chemical interaction between the pegmatites and surrounding basic rocks. Emeralds are created when, the basic rock contains small amounts of chromium, which gives emeralds the intense green color. Bixbite or red beryl is very rare, and is found within gas cavities of rhyolite.
Beryl is found in Europe (Norway, Austria, Germany, and Ireland), as well as Brazil, Colombia, Madagascar, Sweden (especially morganite), Russia, South Africa, the United States (California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah), and Zambia.
Properties, Treatments & Lab Created
Beryl is rated a 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale.
Some beryl is treated with radiation such as dark blue beryls. This radiation treatment is similar to the treatment they use on blue topaz. Other beryls, like morganite and aquamarine can be heat treated to enhance the color and to get rid of any yellow that may be present in the gem. Emeralds are often oiled. In this process the emerald is immersed in oil (usually colorless), doing this helps hide inclusions.
There are lab created forms of emeralds and aquamarine available in the market.
Also available is simulated emerald, which is similar in color to the natural gem.