Articles / Dazzling-Beryl-Family-Includes-Emerald-and-Aquamarine

Prized for centuries and adopted as birthstones for the month of March and May, respectively, the aquamarine and emerald frequently top the price list for precious stones due to their relative rarity. Their fascinating colors are enhanced by expert cutting. For example, because the emerald has rich color but low refractive power, it is most often cut as a square or rectangle, with stepped sides, thus emphasizing its depth of color.

The light-blue aquamarine, however, can dazzle the eye with its sparkle when cut into a traditional brilliant cut, an oval or any range of fancies. Most beryls have a hardness level of 8 on a scale of 0 to 10, so most are appropriate for tough-wear items, such as rings and bracelets as well as pendants, earrings and necklaces. Emerald, however, is more delicate and requires a little more care. Avoid exposing an emerald to extremes of heat and cold and never use chemicals to clean it.

The current trend toward warm-colored gemstones is an important plus for golden beryl, whose name indicates its sparkling golden tone, and morganite, a rare gem with a subtle peachy pink shade. While considerably rarer than emerald and aquamarine, these elegant gemstones are available as rings, pendants and earrings. Most are faceted to emphasize their sparkle, and some designers are showing briolettes, drops that are faceted all around.

The continents of South America and Africa are blessed with the greatest numbers of beryls. For example, emeralds from Colombia and Zambia are among the most sought-after. Many aquamarines and golden beryls come from the rich mines of Brazil; others are found in Western Africa in countries such as Zambia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

David WeissDavid Weiss

Graduate Gemologist, GIA
Certified Appraiser