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.
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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.
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.
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.
Green beryls are sometimes misidentified as heliodors.
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).
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.