Beryl comes from the Greek and Latin "Beryllus" which means "Brilliant, Sparkling". Pure beryl is colorless but it is often tainted by impurities which produces different colored varieties of beryl gemstones.

The beryl family of gemstones’ chemical formula is made up of aluminum beryllium silicates with a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. Each type of beryl varies in transparency and clarity.

It is impurities in Beryl that gives the varied beryl gemstones its unique color.

Emerald is the most valued of all the beryl varieties. It is colored green by trace elements chromium and sometimes vanadium. It comes with inclusions and is the least transparent. Yet due to its rich green color, emerald is highly sought after and esteemed. Emerald was first mined by ancient Egyptians and was one of their favourite and prominent stones.

The most famous source for emerald is Colombia.

Due to its rarity and value, emeralds are often treated or synthesized.

Aquamarine is the second most famous beryl. This precious stone is known for its beautiful faint light blue, blue and bluish-green colors. This color is due to traces of iron. Brazil is the important source for aquamarine.

The pink species of beryl is known as Morganite. This name is given in honor of the American banker and gemstone collector, J.P. Morgan. Morganite is known for its transparent peach pink color, though its color ranges from pale pink to pink, violet-pink, peachy-pink or salmon color. Afghanistan is the main source for morganite.

Golden Beryl (Heliodor) are the greenish-yellow to yellow varieties of beryl. Heliodor and Golden Beryl are distinguished by their color. Heliodor has a greenish-yellow hue and Golden Beryl is a purer yellow or an orange-yellow. However, these two names are used interchangeably.

Heliodor in Greek means "gift from the sun" alluding to its rich yellow color. The yellow comes from the trace element iron. It is rare to find inclusions in Golden Beryl

Golden beryl is widely available. It is found in Brazil, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Golden beryl can be heated treated to be sold as the more expensive aquamarine.

Bixbite is the rarest of species of beryl. It is known now as the Red Beryl. The red color is due to the presence of impurities manganese. Red beryl is extremely rare. It is found in a handful of locations in Utah, New Mexico and Mexico. Gem grade red beryl is only found in the Wah Wah Mountains in Utah.

Bixbite was named after Maynard Bixby who first discovered it in the Thomas Mountains in Western Utah, United States in 1904.

Bixbite was often confused with another gemstone by the name of Bixbyite which was also named after Maynard Bixby.

Whereas Bixbyite is a metallic dark black with a Mohs hardness of 6.0 - 6.5, Bixbite is a red form of beryl with the Mohs hardness of 7.5 to 8.

Today the name Bixbite is no longer used in order to avoid confusion between Bixbyite and Bixbite; Red Beryl is used instead of Bixbite.

White or colorless beryl is known as Goshenite. Goshenite was named after the mine where it was found in Goshen, Massachusetts. In the past, goshenite was used for manufacturing eyeglasses and lenses due to its transparency. Nowadays, it is most commonly used for gemstone purposes. However, due to its relatively low value, goshenite may be heat treated to form other colors.

Goshenite's lack of colors does not mean that it is a pure beryl free from other impurities. There may be some impurities that inhibit colors from forming.

Chrysoberyl, though it contains the name Beryl is not a member of the beryl family. Chrysoberyl is composed of beryllium aluminum oxide and has a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale. Alexandrite is the most famous of the Chrysoberyl species.