Varieties and Uses of Beryl


Andy Vogelsberg

This webpage was created as a part of GO 336 Mineralogy at Emporia State University in November, 2006. The purpose of this assignment was to understand more about beryl and the construction of a webpage. The instructor of the course is Dr. Susan Aber.

Table of Contents


Beryl is often an unknown mineral to most people. Even mineral enthusiasts are often uneducated about the mineral. However, beryl is an important mineraland a beautiful gemstone. Beryl is colorless when in pure form. However, impurities within the beryl give it many colors to make it the wonderful gemstone that it is. Beryl is a hexagonal mineral, with a six fold axis (Wenk and Bulakh p. 438)

Types of Beryl

There are six well known types of beryl. Each type is known because of its distinctive color. The six different types of beryl include aquamarine, bixbite, emerald, goshenite, heliodor, and morganite. Of all of the varieties, emerald and aquamarine are the most sought after for their great beauty as gemstones (Beryl).

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Aquamarine is a light bluish green form of beryl. Its specific color comes from impurities of iron that lie within the beryl. The exact color of the aquamarine itself is dependent on where the impurities are located in the beryl. Aquamarine can be a very expensive gemstone. The most sought after color is pure blue. Sometimes, aquamarine can look a lot like apatite. However, it is much harder than apatite. Aquamarine is most often found in pegmatite's of granite (Aquamarine).
Bixbite is known as the red form of beryl. It is an extremely rare mineral and is found in few places around the world. It is even rarer to find bixbite in good enough shape to be considered as gem form. In fact, Beaver, Utah is the only place where bixite can be found as a gem. No forms of bixbite have ever been found outside of the United States. Bixbite forms in volcanic rocks that are rich in silica. It forms due to low pressures and high temperatures. The red color comes from inclusions of manganese in the beryl itself (Bixbite).

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The image of emerald
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Emerald is the most sought after type of beryl. It is a green mineral. Many people think the most valuable shade of green reflects that of grass. Inclusions are often obvious in emeralds, but most people do not care. Often, emeralds are treated with oils and other solutions. It is rare to see an emerald being sold that has not been treated in any way (Beryl). Emerald gets its green color from inclusions that come from both chromium and iron. Columbia is well known for its emerald deposits. Emerald is most often found in mica schists. These occur in hydrothermal areas. Even though emeralds have been known as great gemstones for thousands of years, many people think that owning an emerald gives them confidence (Emerald).
Goshenite is simply a form of beryl that lacks color. However, this does not mean that it does not have any impurities or inclusions. There are many impurities that can lead goshenite to have no color. This type of beryl can be found in many areas of the world. It is most commonly located where other various types of beryl are located (Goshenite).

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The image of heliodor
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Heliodor is known as the yellow from of beryl. Heliodor gets its yellow color from impurities of iron in the beryl itself. The amount of iron inside of the beryl allows heliodor to have many differnt shades of yellow. These yellow shades can range from orangish to greenish. Heliodor is most commonly found granite pegmatite's. Sometimes, clear beryl can be formed from heliodor. This can be done by heating the heliodor to great temperatures to decrease the concentration of the impure iron (Heliodot).
Morganite is known as the pink form of beryl. It is known to often occur in pegmatite granites. Both manganese and iron give morganite its pink to yellow color. The concentrations of the impurities cause the shades of pink and yellow to be different. Morganite is found in four different U.S states and in two other countries. Morganite got its name from an American. He was a banker, and his name was J.P. Morgan (Morganite).

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Properties and Characteristics of Beryl

Beryl has a chemical composition of Be3Al2(SiO3)6. It has a vitreous luster, and its crystals can be both transparent and translucent. It belongs to the hexagonal crystal system. This can be shown as 6/m2/m2/m. Beryl typically takes the habit of hexagonal prisms and pinnacoids. It has basal cleavage, as well as conchoidal fracture. Its hardness can vary from around 7.5 to 8. Beryl has an average specific gravity that is around 2.7. It has a white streak, while its crystals are often striated and rough. Many other minerals are associated to beryl. Some of these include micas, quartz, calcite, and some feldspars. Beryl is a cylosilicate and twinning is very uncommon. However, simple twinning does take place on pyramidal planes (Beryl).

Beryl is composed of beryllium, aluminum, silicon, and oxygen. Beryllium makes up only about five percent of the beryl itself. However, this is significant because beryllium is a very rare element. It is found in about 100 different minerals, but beryl is one of the top five most significant minerals it occurs in. Beryllium has been used in the production of wire. It is combined with copper to make a high quality resistant wire. It has also been used in nuclear reactors and on space shuttles. Beryllium alloys have also been used in disc brakes and windshields for vehicles (Beryllium).

An image of an beryllium taken from

Uses and Historical Information

Beryl was first found in Egypt thousands of years ago. However, beryl gets its name from the greek word beryllos. The word used to be linked to all gemstones that were green. However, beryllos now only refers to the gemstone beryl. As mentioned earlier, the main source of bery is for its great gem quality. It is not given the nickname the mother of all gemstones for no reason. Although emerald and aquamarine are considered the precious gemstones, other varieties are also sought after. Beryl can sell for very high prices depending upon the color of the gemstone. It is interresting that impurities in the mineral are not looked down upon. This is not common in most gems and minerals (Sinkankas).

The other main use of beryl is its source of beryllium as mentioned above. However beryl is looked upon by some people to bring them powers. Many people think that by owning beryl, it keeps them young. Many people also believe the presence of beryl brings them good luck (Beryl). Aquamarine and emerald are also often looked to for more than just their great gem quality. Many people believe aquamarine rids their minds of negatives and brings them peace. It is also supposed to help with digestion, drug dependency, and tooth care(Aquamarine). Many people believe emeralds bring them peace love and happiness. It is also supposed to help with the conditions of the heart and kidneys (Emerald).


Sinkankas, John. Emerald and Other Beryls. Chilton Book Company, Radnor Pennsylvania. 1981.

Bulakh, Andrei and Hans Rudolph Wenk. Minerals, Their Constitution and Origin. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 2004.

Beryl.Gem and Mineral Miners, 2001. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/14/2006.

Aquamarine.Gem and Mineral Miners, 2001. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/15/2006.

Bixbite.Gem and Mineral Miners, 2001. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/15/2006.

Emerald.Gem and Mineral Miners, 2001. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/13/2006.

Heliodot.Gem and Mineral Miners, 2001. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/14/2006.

Morganite.Gem and Mineral Miners, 2001. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/17/2006.

Mineral Beryl, The. Amethyst Galleries, Inc. 2006. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/19/2006.

Goshenite, The Colorless Form of Beryl. Amethyst Galleries, Inc. 2006. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/19/2006.

Beryllium. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2006. World Wide Web URL: Retrieved 11/20/2006.

This webpage project was created to meet the requirements of GO 336 Mineralogy at Emporia State University. For more information,contact Andy Vogelsberg,

Created November 19, 2006, from the Earth Science Department, Emporia State University:, at Emporia State University, Emporia, KS

Go to the GO336 Mineralogy Home Page,