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Beryl Group

What is Beryl Group?

Beryl is a family of gemstones, and in its purest form is actually colourless. However, it is the presence of small different impurities that give rise to colour, the result being an entire range of gemstone varieties including pale blue to greenish blue (aquamarine), green (emerald), pink (morganite), yellow (heliodor) and colourless (goshenite). Many of these varieties occur in spectacular crystals and it is easy to see how beautiful gemstones may be cut from them. 

Beryl crystals showing colour variations. © Natural History Museum

Properties of the beryl group

Beryl is quite hard (Mohs' hardness 7.5), and stones are bright with a vitreous lustre, and often produces large transparent gemstones.

Colour is the most important and desirable feature of gemstones in the beryl group. Stones typically have a vitreous lustre and range from transparent to translucent. Most are faceted, but gem material with many inclusions may be fashioned into cabochons or beads. Because some members of the beryl group occur in spectacular large crystals, they can also be artistically carved, the greenish-blue variety 'aquamarine' being notable for this.

The most notable variety here is emerald, but emeralds in particular can fracture easily, so care is needed when being set in jewellery and when being worn.

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