Beryl is a large, ancient gemstone family displaying all the colours of the rainbow that the heart might desire and more. Emerald, aquamarine and morganite are but a few members of this colourful family, which boasts a long and fascinating history. The English term ‘beryl’ is derived from the Prakrit word veruliyam, which developed into berullus in Latin and beryllos in Greek.


These beautiful gems have been treasured in various ways throughout history. In the Middle Ages, beryl served as a magic mirror that allowed its viewer to see into the future. At the same time, holy relics such as monstrances and caskets were ornamented with slices of beryl that endowed them with a unique radiance. It was also believed that wearing beryl, symbolising purity, would keep trouble at bay and protect from injury. Beryl was thought to purge liquids of poisons and was regarded as having healing properties. It is even said that the great Roman Emperor Nero, oddly, used to enjoy viewing gladiator fights through an emerald, the most precious member of the beryl group.


Pure beryls are absolutely colourless, so called goshenite. It is the introduction of other trace elements that provides a beryl with its soft colour. Many of these colours are of a pastel gentleness, making them very popular with the fairer sex. Trivalent iron turns a beryl into heliodor, a golden beryl, whereas divalent iron results in an aquamarine, the blue variety of beryl. The combination of divalent and trivalent iron leads to green shades, not to be mistaken with emerald. Morganite, a delicate pink beryl, is created through the presence of small amounts of the rare metal caesium and/or the transition element manganese. Beryl, a beryllium aluminium silicate, grows in a pegmatitic environment, and displays the typical characteristics of a pegmatite mineral.


Mining Areas
Pegmatite deposits, the producers of beryl, are found on every continent, the best-known findings being in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, India, Afghanistan, California and the Urals. However, Brazil has now far outstripped these countries, its major beryl fields located in the gem-rich states of Bahia, Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais.