Learning Library

Chrysoberyl Gemstone

A gemstone of which Alexandrite is a variety.

Formed almost 250 million years ago, yet only discovered in 1789, Chrysoberyl acquired its name from an amalgam of two Greek words; “chrysos”, meaning “golden” and “beryllos”, meaning “gem crystal”.

Without doubt this is one of the most overlooked and under-rated gemstones of the last decade. Its extreme hardness provides the gemstone with an incredible lustre. It has a refractive index similar to that of a Sapphire, so therefore demonstrates a wonderful amount of brilliance and inner life. Whilst its tone is lighter than Peridot, it can often have a saturation approaching that of a DayGlo jacket. And best of all, the gem needs no treatments or enhancement, its beauty is 100% natural.
Being one of the rarer, lesser-known gemstones, it should not be confused with the mineral “Beryl”. Although their names are related, that is where the similarities end.

Due to its high content of iron, Chrysoberyl is formed in various shades of green, yellow and sometimes a reddish brown; in rare cases it has been found in a bluish green.

It is an extremely hard gemstone, measuring up to 8.5 on the Mohs scale, making it the third hardest naturally occurring gemstone known to man.

Chrysoberyl was extremely popular in Victorian and Edwardian eras and it is thought that supply was much more plentiful in those times than it is today, hence the reason why very little of the stunning gem has been set in jewellery over the last decade.

Folklore suggests that Chrysoberyl aids one in striving for excellence, endowing peace of mind to the bearer. Some even believe that its mystical powers aid the wearer in gaining self-confidence, allowing them to comprehend the fact that they already have all they really need.

Chrysoberyl is also believed to increase the healing properties of other gemstones. In partnership with the correct gem, it is maintained it can treat serious illness.

There are two extremely rare varieties of Chrysoberyl: the highly acclaimed Alexandrite and Cymophane.

Cymophane is commonly known as “Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye” or lesser known as “Oriental Cat’s Eye”. The reason for this is that Cymophane has an optical property known as chatoyancy, which, due to its structure, simulates the opening and closing of an eye.

Unlike cat’s eye seen in other gem varieties, the effect seen in Cymophane can often be wavy. Just like its sister Alexandrite, Cymophane is a real collector’s gemstone and because of its chatoyancy Cymophane is always cabochon cut.

The gem is yellow to green in appearance and at 8 to 8.5 on the Mohs scale, it can be worn every day. Cymophane shares the same folklore and legends as Chrysoberyl. When found with colour change characteristics, it is renamed Alexandrite.

Legend suggests that Cymophane would protect the wearer from evil, warding off spirits and demons. It is also believed to help balance emotions, bringing peace and understanding to situations in one’s life.

Alexandrite is the ultimate Chrysoberyl and is highly regarded by gem experts, enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. When you view Alexandrite in daylight (balanced light) the gem is green but when the light source is reddish (incandescent), the gem shows tones of purple or red. The colour change effect is very subtle, and it is a bit of an exaggeration that the gemstone looks Emerald by day and Ruby at night. Having said that, a decent size stone with good clarity exhibiting colour change, is a very rare find indeed.

One of three birthstones for the month of June, Alexandrite is believed to strengthen the wearer’s intuition, and thus, helps find new ways forward where logic and practical thinking will not provide an answer. It is also known to aid creativity and inspire one’s imagination.

Back to Learning Library

A 3ct Chrysoberyl from Madagascar.