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Aquamarine with microcline and quartz

Aquamarine with microcline and quartz

Notice the transparent portions of this aquamarine, a variety of beryl. Such clarity is what gem-cutters look for. Virtually all aquamarine gemstones originate in pegmatites. This aquamarine is perched on an exceptionally well-formed microcline crystal.

Beryl (variety: Aquamarine)

Beryl (variety: Aquamarine)

Although these two minerals grew side by side, they have different shapes. The atoms in beryl connect in a six-fold pattern and form six-sided crystals. The atoms in muscovite form layers that make sheet-like crystals.

Beryl (variety: Aquamarine)

Beryl (variety: Aquamarine)

As the name suggests, aquamarine exhibits the colors of the sea. The delicate hues come from traces of iron (mainly Fe+2). Heating removes aquamarines' green tones, leaving a pure blue color. Brazil is the major source of the gem aquamarine.

Beryl (variety: Emerald)

Beryl (variety: Emerald)

This beryl (emerald) was found at the Hiddenite and Emerald Mine, near Stony Point, Alexander County, North Carolina in 1971. It measures 11 cm in depth and is one of the finest emerald specimens ever found in North America. The specimen was given to the Smithsonian Institustion by Dr. Lawrence Funt in 1979.

Beryl (variety: Heliodor)

Beryl (variety: Heliodor)

Golden beryl, or heliodor, gets its name from the Greek words for sun and gift. Iron gives the specimen its yellow glow. Different amounts of iron create a color range that includes green beryl.

Beryl (variety: Morganite on albite)

Beryl (variety: Morganite on albite)

Morganite, the pink variety of beryl, gets its color from impurities of manganese. Like aquamarine, the blue-green variety of beryl, it is used as a gemstone. Morganite is found only in pegmatites. Renowned gemologist George Kunz named it after his patron, financier J. P. Morgan. Madagascar is famous for fine morganite, but most material now comes from Brazil, Pakistan, and the U.S. (California).


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