Of all commonly used - natural - gemstones, chrysoberyl is only surpassed by corundum and diamond in its hardness and brilliance. The name is derived from the Greek "golden beryl", but it differs much from beryl both in chemical composition as in crystal structure. Chrysoberyl -as a gem - is yellow to green in color with transparent varieties, namely the color changing alexandrite and cymophane (chatoyant chrysoberyl).


A 9.39 carat Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl is the Star of this Vintage Style Ring.
Image courtesy of Lang Antiques.

Cat's eye has the longest history of gems in the chrysoberyl family. It was treasured in Asia before the birth of Christ and became quite well known in Rome by the end of the First Century. In the symbolic necklace of Vishnu, a green cat-eye chrysoberyl represented the magnetic center of human passion. The popularity of Cat's Eyes sky-rocked in the 19th Century after the Duke of Connaught presented his fiance with a cat's eye betrothal ring. Ceylon, where most of the examples of cat's eye were mined could not keep up with the overwhelming demand.

Sri Lanka and Brazil hold the main deposist of fine quality, transparent greenish yellow, chrysoberyl and they were very popular in the Victorian an Edwardian Europe.

When traders speak about "cat's-eye" without a postfix, cymophane is implied and this gemstone has the longest history of the chrysoberyls. It was treasured during Biblical times in Asia and in a Vishu necklace a cymophane was the representation of the magnetic center of human passion. During Victorian times the popularity of cymophane reach its peak after Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and 3rd son of Queen Victoria, gave his future wife - Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia - a betrothal ring set with a chrysobery cat's-eye in 1860[1].

Metaphysically speaking, chrysoberyl has been attributed the power to foster meditation and to balance one's energy. It has long been believed to improve eyesight and to protect against evil. It was also thought to induce better relations with neighbours Arabs believed it could make one invisible on the battlefield.

As a wedding gift cymophane symbolizes the 18th anniversary.

Gemological Information for Chrysoberyl

Color: Yellowish-green, yellow, brown. Alexandrite: blue-green to green red to purple color change
Crystal Structure Orthorhombic
Refractive Index: 1.74 to 1.75, birefringence 0.008 to 0.010
Durability: Excellent
Hardness: 8.5
Family: Chrysoberyl
Similar Stones: (sythtetic) Corundum, Citrine, Tourmaline, Garnet, Peridot
Optical phenomena Cat's-Eye
Treatments: None
Country of Origin: Sri Lanka, Brazil, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Madagaskar, India

Chrysoberyl Care

Ultrasonic Cleaning: safe
Steam Cleaning: safe
Warm Soapy Water: safe
Chemical Attack: avoid
Light Sensitivity: none
Heat Sensitivity: Safe


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Online G&G Articles on Chrysoberyl