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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Beryl (var. heliodor)

This gem is faceted in a skewed lozenge cut. This heliodor is from a locality not previously represented in the National Gem Collection.
Photo by Greg Polley. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
BerylNMNH G10535-00Tajikistan56.5 ct
BerylNMNH G10534-00Tajikistan30.72 ct

Gift of Mr. David A. Brackna in 2007.

The mineral beryl occurs in many colors. The best known gem varieties are the deep-green emerald and the sea-blue aquamarine. However, beryl is also found in shades of pink (morganite), red, and yellow (heliodor), and in some cases is colorless (goshenite). The heliodor gems shown here are from Tajikistan and exhibit a deeply saturated golden-yellow color. The gems were faceted by award winning gemcutter David Brackna. The 56.62 carat heliodor is a skewed lozenge cut; the 30.70 carat gem is faceted in a Turkish star having the effect of facets reflecting off of each other. These are beautiful examples of heliodors from a locality not previously represented in the National Gem Collection.

About beryl

The mineral beryl has many beautiful gem varieties: intense green emerald, blue to blue-green aquamarine, golden yellow heliodor, rare red beryl, and pink morganite. Beryl, in its pure form, is colorless. The rich hues of its gems are caused by a variety of impurity atoms that were incorporated in the crystals as they grew. When beryl is green, but not intense enough in color to be called emerald, it is simply called green beryl. The various shades of green beryl can range from light green to yellowish or bluish green and are due to impurities of iron.  Aquamarine, as the name suggests, exhibits the variable color of the sea. Its color depends on the relative amounts of impurities of iron in two different chemical states (Fe+2 and Fe+3). Aquamarine ranges in color from light blue to a pure blue and to shades of greenish-blue. The yellow glow of heliodor is due to impurities of iron. Heliodor gets its name from two Greek words meaning sun and gift. Morganite, or pink beryl, gets it delicate hue from trace quantities of manganese. Morganite ranges in color from pink or rose to peach to light violet. It was named by the renowned gemologist George F. Kunz after his patron, financier J. P. Morgan.The National Museum of Natural History has an extensive collection of beryl gems and minerals on exhibit.


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