Aquamarine-From a Rainbow of Gems
Aquamarine is beautiful, and the birthstone for the month of March. But did you know there are other gems almost like it, but in different colors?
It's true that aquamarine is only blue, but the mineral beryl forms in different varieties depending on trace minerals or impurities.
The name beryl is derived from Latin, beryllus, and referred to any precious gemstone with pale green blue color.
After the studies of gemology and crystallography were established, beryl became associated only with the gemstones within the beryl mineral classification.
Quick Facts About Beryl
- Hardness ranges between 7.5-8*.
- Different varieties (colors) are caused by trace minerals, aka impurities.
- Elements vanadium and chromium cause emerald's green color.
The two elements are larger than the aluminum atoms they replace. This causes strain in the crystal structure, which is why emeralds are the one of the more fragile varieties of beryl.
the popular beryl gems, like emerald, aquamarine and morganite used for rings of frequent wear, like engagement rings. be aware that they won't hold up as well as harder gemstones like diamonds and sapphires.
*Even though 8 is considered a decent hardness rating for regular wear, popular varieties of beryl, like emerald, aquamarine and morganite may not hold up to daily wear as alternative gems for engagement rings. Wear them, but know there's a risk of damage.
Gem quality beryl is found all over the world. Beryl typically forms in large crystals, and in areas of metamorphic and slow cooling igneous geologic environments.
Popular Beryl Gemstones
Emerald, morganite, heliodor (yellow to greenish yellow), aquamarine, goshenite (clear variety), and bixbite (red) are all varieties of the mineral, beryl.
All photos above are from GIA's (Gemological Institute of America) Gem Project for beryl. In 2005, GIA acquired the impressive gem collection of Edward J. Gübelin. Over 2000 gemstones collected over 60 years are included in the collection, and available to the trade and public. To learn more, click the blue highlighted links above, or visit GIA.edu.
To learn more about the mineral beryl and how its color varieties are formed, watch the video below, by David V. Black and his Elements Unearthed series. (It starts at the good part 😉about the gemstones! But the rest of the video is really interesting to watch as well.)
We wanted to feature an aquamarine with a mix of pale green and blue. We found this lovely aquamarine pendant at Green Hill Jewelers on their Etsy site. Green Hill Jewelers is located in Adamstown, PA.
One of the most popular gems over the past decade has been the peachy-pink variety of beryl, called morganite.
Kosnar Gem Company in Golden, CO has an amazing assortment of beautifully faceted gemstones. The husband and wife team purchase and facet all their gemstones. Warm, welcoming and very knowledgeable, you'll see us feature their unique gemstones frequently.
The history behind Morganite
Morganite's name comes from a famous and wealthy investor, J. P. Morgan.
“Following the discovery of a new locality for rose beryl in Madagascar in 1910, George Kunz proposed the name morganite at a meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences on 5 December 1910 to honor his friend and customer J.P. Morgan for his financial support for the arts and sciences, and his important gifts of gems to the American Museum of Natural History in New York and to the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Morgan was one of the most important gem collectors in the early 1900s – his collection was partly assembled by Tiffany and Company and their chief gemologist, Kunz.” – GIA, https://www.gia.edu/morganite-history-lore
The morganite and diamond necklace pictured above can be purchased at California Girl Jewelry.
The Sunny Side of Beryl
Heliodor is the yellow to greenish yellow variety of beryl.
Its beautiful sunny color offers a unique variety for yellow gemstone lovers.
For shopping information or to purchase, click the links below:
Red beryl is the rarest of the beryl gemstones. Red beryl is only mined and found in the Wah Wah mountains in Utah.
Red beryl, also called bixbite, named for the miner who discovered it, Maynard Bixby.
Fine, gem quality crystals can sell for up to $10,000 per carat!
Red Beryl Jewelry
One of the best selections of red beryl jewelry is at Park City Jewelers in Park City, Utah.
The shop is family owned and run, just the type of jewelry establishment we showcase and support.
Park City Jewelers custom makes unique jewelry, AND, if you stop in to see them, they say they'll treat you to a fresh, home baked cookie!
March Brings In A Rainbow of Gemstones
The lovely pale blue of aquamarine is a welcoming color for spring's brighter and warmer weather.
Now that you know the relatives to aquamarine, your jewelry wardrobe can grow with unique gemstones in the beryl family, like morganite, heliodor, red beryl and emerald.
Show and Tell Us About Your Beryl Gemstones
Do you have a jeweled treasure set with beryl other than aquamarine? What about a crystal? Are you a jeweler or designer with beautiful jewelry set with beryl gemstones?
Share about your beryl gems and jewelry in the comments, or fill out the form below to share!