Chrysoberyl is an unusual and often unknown gem in jewellery -purely due to its rarity. It is most often seen as a mineral specimen in specialist collections, however with a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale, it is also one of the hardest and most durable gemstones, so very suitable for wearing on a daily basis. The name chrysoberyl is derived from Ancient Greek and is translated as ‘gold beryl'. You might think from this name that chrysoberyls are related to the gem group beryl -this is not the case, both groups do however contain the element beryllium.
The gem group of chrysoberyl comprises of three varieties:
The first variety is the ordinary yellow-green transparent gem. This type can vary in colour from an attractive golden yellow through to a mint green colour. Sri Lanka and Brazil were the locations of the mines of the best quality transparent gem material.
The second variety is the translucent yellow chatoyant ‘cat's eye' or ‘cymophane' type. This variety has dual ‘honey and milk' colouration and when a light passes over the stone, the tiny needle-like inclusions within it create a moving band of light. This gem is cut en cabochon which displays the phenomenon to its best advantage. Of all three varieties of chrysoberyl, this type has been appreciated for the longest- back to Biblical times in Asia through to Ancient Rome. There was renewed interest in this gemstone in the 19th century after the Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria's third son, presented a cat's eye chrysoberyl engagement ring to Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia in 1860 and this popularity continued through the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Demand was so high that Ceylon, where most were mined, couldn't keep up with the need. The cat's eye variety is only a very small overall percentage of chrysoberyl's found and as such is very valuable.
The third type of chrysoberyl is alexandrite- an extremely rare colour change gem which appears green in daylight and purplish red in incandescent light. It was discovered by the mineralogist N. G. Nordenskiold in 1830 who named it after Tsar Alexander II of Russia who came of age on the day they were first discovered. The original mine was in the Ural region in Russia, however this mine has long been depleted. Dramatic colour change is most highly prized and large sizes over 3 carats are incredibly rare.
These fabulous gems are thought to be imbued with the power to balance one's energy, improve eyesight, protect against evil and generally keep disaster at bay. Arabs went one step further and believed that it made one invisible on the battlefield!
Jewellery set with cat's eye chrysoberyl is associated with 18th wedding anniversaries, but why wait? We have an exclusive selection of fine chrysoberyl antique and vintage rings that can be worn and enjoyed today!