Heliodor Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Cushion trilliant-cut heliodor, 2 cts. © Sarah McNaught Bespoke Faceting. Used with permission.

Heliodor

Heliodor is a member of the beryl family. This stone is known for its range of yellow colors — from pale yellow, greenish yellow, orange-yellow, to a deep golden orange. Heliodor can be faceted for jewelry use.

Heliodor Value

As with other beryls, top values for heliodor go to gems with high clarity first and good color a close second. Heliodors are available in large sizes, too, so there’s no increase in price per carat until 10+ carats.

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Beryl Value via Gem Price Guide

Accompanying value information:
Red .1 to 1 carat 1 carat plus
to ,000/ct to ,000/ct
Fine Color Morganite: slpR 3/4
Morganite 1 to 10 carats 10 carat plus
to /ct to /ct
Fine Color Yellow: Y 4/4
Gold & Yellow 1 to 10 carats 10 carat plus
to /ct to /ct
Fine Color Green: slyG 4/3
Green 1 to 20 carats 20 carats plus
to /ct to /ct
Goshenite All sizes
to /ct

Heliodor Information

Data Value
Name Heliodor
Is a Variety of Beryl
Alternate Common Names Golden Beryl
Crystallography Hexagonal
Refractive Index 1.566-1.579
Colors Greenish yellow, yellow, yellowish-orange
Luster Vitreous
Hardness 7.5-8
Wearability Good
Fracture Conchoidal to uneven
Specific Gravity 2.68-2.72
Birefringence 0.005-0.009
Cleavage Indistinct
Dispersion 0.014
Transparency Transparent to opaque.
Formula Be3Al2Si6O18 + Fe3+
Pleochroism Less distinct than the other beryls. Brownish-yellow to lemon-yellow.
Optics Uniaxial (-)
Optic Sign Uniaxial -
Etymology From the Greek helios and doron for "gift of the sun," in allusion to the yellow color.
Occurrence Granitic rocks, especially granite pegmatites.
Inclusions Long, hollow tubes; needles; fingerprints; negative crystals; chrysanthemums; pinpoints; two-phase inclusions.
Typical Treatments Dyeing, Heat Treatment, Irradiation
Enhancements Heating, radiation, dyeing
Phenomena Chatoyancy
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heliodor crystal - Brazil

Beryl (heliodor variety), 3.4 x 3.3 x 2.7 cm, Minas Gerais, Southeast Region, Brazil. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Comments

Heliodor, also known as golden beryl, is the beryl variety that receives its yellow color from Fe3+ ions. The name “heliodor” originated as a trade name for golden beryl from Rössing, Namibia but now encompasses any gem-quality, golden-yellow beryl.

Some gemological references distinguish between the terms heliodor and golden beryl, using “heliodor” strictly for beryls with a greenish yellow color and “golden beryl” for beryls with pure yellow to gold color. Other references, notably Walter Schumann, reject heliodor as a distinct variety of beryl altogether and consider heliodors as simply “weak-colored” golden beryls.

Heliodors make durable jewelry stones, whether faceted or cabbed, and also occur in sizes large enough for carving.

turtle figurine

This 122.33-ct turtle figurine was carved from a single piece of heliodor from Ukraine by Hans Ulrich Pauly. (The eyes are black onyx wrapped in 18k gold). Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Hindman.

Identifying Characteristics

Green beryls are sometimes misidentified as heliodors.

Prismatic heliodor crystals may have etched faces. This results from changes in the chemical composition of the crystal’s growth medium due to overpressure during its formation.

golden beryl with etched faces - Zimbabwe

Beryl (heliodor variety). Note the etched crystal faces. 3.7 x 2.9 x 2.9 cm, Karoi (Urungwe) District, Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Some cabbed heliodors may show chatoyancy (a “cat’s eye” effect).

cat's eye heliodors

The sharp cat’s eyes in these cabbed heliodors are caused by inclusions of growth tubes and fine, needle-like crystals. They also contain inclusions of blue gahnite crystals. Left to right: 4.13, 4.18, 4.31, and 4.48 cts. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

Synthetics

Manufacturers can synthesize heliodors, and other beryl varieties, via flux and hydrothermal methods. 

Enhancements

Treatments applied to heliodors include heating, impregnation, and dyeing.

Greenish yellow heliodors may be heated and turned into aquamarines. This is known to have happened with Ukrainian material. Better known by consumers, faceted aquamarines will generally sell for more than heliodors. However, aquamarines may also be irradiated and turned into heliodors. Reportedly, pale aquamarines from Vietnam may receive radiation treatments in Laos, only to be returned to Vietnam and sold as natural heliodors.

Some controversy surrounds so-called heliodors from Zelatoya Vada, Tajikistan. According to Dmitriy Belakovskiy, the curator of the Fersman Museum in Moscow, these heliodors, aside from their color, look like Pakistani aquamarines and Chinese beryls. Furthermore, he was unable to locate the purported source of these stones in the field. (See his chapter in Beryl and Its Color Varieties (2005) for more information). These heliodors may simply be treated aquamarines and/or colorless beryls (goshenite).

bi-color aquamarine/heliodor crystal - Namibia

Members of the beryl family, heliodor and aquamarine both receive their color from iron impurities. These natural, bi-colored beryl crystals have blue (aquamarine) bodies and yellow (heliodor) terminations. 5.4 x 4.8 x 4.0 cm, Erongo Mountain, Usakos and Omaruru Districts, Erongo Region, Namibia. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Sources

Significant sources of gem-quality heliodors include the following:

  • Brazil: greenish yellow to fine, deep-orange colored material, much of it gemmy.
  • Madagascar: gemmy crystals.
  • Namibia: in pegmatites.
  • Russia: gemmy crystals.
  • Ukraine: gemmy crystals.
heliodor crystal - Russia

Heliodor, Sherlovaya Gora, Russia. Photo by Smallru. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

In the United States, Connecticut produces small but fine colored crystals, some gemmy. Maine and New Hampshire also produce some crystals.

heliodor - Maine, USA

Trilliant-cut heliodor, 5.4 cts, 12 mm across, 7.3 mm deep, Maine. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Nest Egg Auctions.

Other sources:

  • Afghanistan; Cambodia; China; Finland; India; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nigeria; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Tanzania; Zambia; Zimbabwe.
golden beryl - Finland

Beryl (heliodor variety), 5.0 x 4.5 x 3.5 cm, Karelia Beryl Mine pegmatite, Kannatsalo, Southern Karelia, Etela-Suomen Laani, Finland. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Ukraine has produced rough that has yielded faceted heliodors up to 2,500 cts in weight.

Notable, sizable heliodors in museum collections include the following:

  • British Museum (Natural History) (London England): 82.25 (yellow).
  • Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Ontario, Canada):  77.8 (yellow, step cut, Brazil).
  • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 2,054 (greenish yellow, rectangular step cut, Brazil); 133.5 (yellow, Madagascar); 43.5 (golden cat’s eye, Madagascar); 17.5 (yellow, Russia).
heliodor - Afghanistan

55-ct heliodor, 23 x 20 x 16 mm, Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Jasper52.

Care

Heliodors free of inclusions can be cleaned using mechanical systems. Have a gemologist examine your gems first to identify any potential weaknesses. Of course, a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water will always work safely.

Consult our gemstone jewelry care guide for more recommendations.

golden beryl

3.6-ct, emerald-cut heliodor. © CustomMade. Used with permission.