Hurlbut, Cornelius S., Jr. Department of Geological Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:February 2021
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A mineral having composition BeAl2O4 and crystallizing in the orthorhombic system. Chrysoberyl crystals (see illustration) are usually tabular parallel to the front pinacoid and frequently in pseudohexagonal twins. There is good prismatic cleavage. The hardness is 8.5 (Mohs scale) and the specific gravity is 3.7–3.8. The luster is vitreous and the color various shades of green, yellow, and brown. There are two gem varieties of chrysoberyl. Alexandrite, one of the most prized of gemstones, is an emerald green but in transmitted or in artificial light is red. Cat's eye, or cymophane, is a green chatoyant variety with an opalescent luster. When shaped and polished, cat's eye is crossed by a narrow beam of light. This property results from minute tabular cavities that are arranged in parallel position.
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