trilliant-cut heliodor
trilliant-cut heliodor

Heliodor Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


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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Why?

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.

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

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Heliodor Value

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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.

faceted heliodors - Brazil
Heliodors, Brazil (20.00, 19.85 // 18.98, 3.20). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
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.

What is Heliodor?

Heliodor 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.

heliodor - Brazil
Heliodor, Brazil. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Is There a Difference Between Heliodor and Golden Beryl?

Heliodor is also known as golden beryl. However, 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.

Does Heliodor Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

Heliodors make durable jewelry stones, whether faceted or cabbed.

20th century modern necklace
20th century modern necklace by Paul Binder, featuring a pendant with a fancy-cut heliodor and brilliant-cut diamonds. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Rago Arts and Auction Center.

These stones also occur in sizes large enough for carving.

turtle figurine
A 122.33-ct turtle figurine, 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. These cabs 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.

Are There Synthetic Heliodors?

Manufacturers can synthesize beryls, including heliodors, via flux and hydrothermal methods. You might find these lab-created stones in jewelry.

lab-created heliodors
Clip earrings with synthetic heliodors. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and San Rafael Auction Gallery.

Can Heliodors Receive Gem Treatments?

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.

Where are Heliodors Found?

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.

In the United States, Connecticut produces small but fine colored crystals, some gemmy.

heliodor - Connecticut
Heliodor, Roebling Quarry, Connecticut. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

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.

How to Care for Your Heliodor Gemstones

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. Photo by CustomMade. Used with permission.

Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


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