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January-February 2011

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Connoisseur's Choice: Beryl, Variety Morganite San Diego County, California

One of the most popular of all collectible minerals is beryl. Its wide variation in color, particularly in the gem varieties, its tendency to form exceptionally perfect crystals in pocket environments, and its unusually broad distribution make it ubiquitous in dealer stocks and most collections. Its several varieties are seen today from many currently producing localities in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, Madagascar, Zambia, and the United States. High-quality specimens of the beryl gems, such as emerald and aquamarine, and to a lesser extent heliodor, morganite, bixbite (red beryl), and goshenite, are particularly prized, as are specimens from classic or unusual localities. A few collectors specialize in beryl, assembling magnificent collections that have been displayed at national gem and mineral shows in recent years. From a historical perspective, the United States has had its share of exceptional beryl localities including the emeralds of North Carolina; aquamarines from northeastern pegmatites, Idaho, and Colorado; red beryl from Utah; and, of course, phenomenal specimens from the pegmatites in Southern California. Consequently, in keeping with the California theme of the 2011 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, morganite, the pink variety of beryl, so well known from the pegmatites of San Diego County, has been nominated for this issue's Connoisseur's Choice. It is the second beryl variety to be covered in this column, the first being emerald (Cook 1993).

Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. He welcomes suggestions for this column and can be contacted at the addresses above.

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