When we talk about beryls in the jewelry industry, we are talking about a whole family of gems. Some of these you have probably heard of, and others are probably much less familiar. These beryl varieties come from many locations around the world and it is fun to know about their origins and stories.
Emerald is probably the best known beryl variety. The most famous origin is Columbia where the Aztecs produced these gems long before the Spanish came to the new world. There are also significant finds in Zambia and in the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan. Recently there has been some production from Ethiopia, but it is a very new source so no one yet quite knows if it will be ongoing production or just a short term find. Columbia Gem House does cut some emerald, but that is not the beryl we really want to talk about today.
The other varieties of beryl tend to be lighter tones or pastel colors. So what are they?
Aquamarine is the best know of these “other” beryls. This gem can run from a deep sky blue to pastel blues. Some Aqua will have a greenish overtone, but you don’t see this often anymore. This greenish type of Aqua can be heated at low temperatures and the greenish tone will disappear yielding a pure blue stone. Since the purer blue is more valuable, most people routinely heat their rough. We actually love both colors so we have gems with pure blue as well as ones with the green overtones.
Today most of our Aqua comes from Nigeria. It is cutting wonderful blue even in small size baguettes and rounds. In the past we cut material from Malawi, Brazil and Afghanistan. Since we have moved away from stone sourced from Afghanistan over the past 5 years, Nigeria has become our go to location. Aqua, like Emeralds, can be found in a full range of sizes. This can be from a few tenths of a carat to extremely large stones. We generally cut up to 6 carat, but do have stones as large as 40 carats. Aqua tends to be pretty clean, meaning free of inclusions, so whether 1.5mm round melee, 4x2 baguettes or very large stones, most will be very bright and clear. We do get to cut some fun things also like crystal slices, Geocuts™ and rosecuts. Aqua is certainly one of our favorite stones.
Green Beryl is another category. Here there are really two kinds. One is the very “greenish” color that can be heated to blue, but the one we love is actually colored with chrome and cannot be heated to blue. That is really great because this is truly one of the most beautiful gemstones in the world. Because of the chrome coloring, these stone are a very neon light green! Beautiful! Maybe some Seafoam® or paraiba tourmaline looks like this stunning green beryl. We should come up with a special name for one of the gem worlds’ most beautiful gems.
This gem material does come from a few locations, but the one we work with is coming from Nasarawa State in Nigeria. We cut this electric green beryl in small rounds, baguettes, ovals and emerald cuts. This is definitely one of our most beautiful stones.
Another variety of beryl is Heliodor. Helio meaning sun, is an apt name for this yellow colored gemstone. Much of the heliodor on the market today is irradiated to get a golden color, but what a beautiful color it is. There is no way to scientifically determine what is natural color and what is irradiated. What you see on the market is likely a little of both. So we have two colors of Heliodor: One is a canary yellow that we cut in small rounds, baguettes and ovals, and then larger, more honey colored gems that go to 5 carat. The heliodor we have tracks its origins to Brazil. This is where we will see most of the Heliodor on the market today coming from.
Now lets think Pink! Pink Beryl is named Morganite after the American banker and gemstone collector, J.P. Morgan. The color is almost always a delicate pink to peach color. Pink is traditionally considered the most valuable, but in today’s world it is just which color you like best. The majority of the pink and peach morganite on the market comes from a white beryl irradiated to the pink/peach color. The material we cut is 100% natural, no treatments at all. We are getting this rough from Nigeria along with the Aqua and Green Beryls being produced there.
The Morganite looks great in rounds and ovals, but wait ‘til you see them in hexagons and Geocuts™. There really is nothing in the world that looks like these gems. These also look fantastic in straight and tapered baguettes especially when paired with Aqua, Green Beryl, Heliodor and Goshenite.
That brings us to our last beryl for the day, Goshenite. Goshenite is a crystal clear colorless beryl that gets its name from Goshen in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. So if you hear the name Goshenite, it is the colorless variety of beryl, but probably is no longer coming from Goshen, Massachusetts.
So where is our Goshenite rough coming from? We have gotten some from Idaho, Brazil, Afghanistan and Nigeria and ours may actually be from all of those places. About 20 years ago the US government decided to sell off much of the strategic stockpile of minerals it created before and after World War II. Somehow, they held it for some potential use in the defense industry, but then decided to liquidate a lot of what they had and Goshenite rough was one. So our rough came from the US Defense stockpile many years ago. We do believe most was from Brazil but there was no tracking by the US government for production or origin of this rough.
So, beryls are a whole big barrel of colors. The ones we specialize in, Aquamarine, Green Beryl, Heliodor, Morganite and Goshenite, look so great together. So beautiful to see in the rough, and so much fun to cut and really lovely to design with.