What is Goshenite?

Mary McMahon

Goshenite is a totally clear form of beryl, a mineral which has been used as a gemstone for thousands of years by many cultures. You may see goshenite used as a stand-in for diamonds in some cases, and it is also used more generally as a clear and attractive gemstone which can be cut into a variety of faceted or unfaceted shapes. Goshenite can also be treated to color it, creating a range of desirable colors for jewelry.

Goshenite is named after Goshen, Massachusetts, where a large deposit was once discovered.
Goshenite is named after Goshen, Massachusetts, where a large deposit was once discovered.

Beryl, more formally known as aluminum beryllium silicate, is a gemstone which can be found in many regions of the world. When the stone appears in clear or almost clear form, it is known as goshenite. Impurities can turn beryl a range of colors, including green, in which case it is known as emerald, and a rich aqua, in which case it is called aquamarine. As you can see, beryl is a famous and often highly prized stone, especially when it appears without inclusions and in large deposits, allowing people to fashion a wide range of things from it.

The two largest sources of goshenite are Russia and North America. The stone is named for Goshen, Massachusetts, where a large deposit was once discovered. Goshenite is actually a fairly abundant form of beryl, and as a result many jewelers are very picky about it, preferring flawless and large specimens which give them some flexibility. Goshenite with inclusions or impurities which cloud the clarity and color are generally rejected, used in other industries or sold to gem collectors.

You may hear goshenite called white beryl, in a reference to the clear color, or the “mother of gemstones,” because as soon as it acquires impurities, it can turn into a wide range of precious forms of beryl. Goshenite even appears in some translations of the Bible, in which the wheels of God's chariot are said to be made from clear beryl. In addition to finding it in jewelry, you can also see beryl at rock shops and stores which specialize in various minerals, both in raw and finished forms, and it is sometimes carved into beads for use by crafters.

Like other forms of beryl, goshenite can be a moderately brittle stone. If it is abused, it may crack catastrophically, and it benefits from being handled gently and set in sturdy settings which will not expose it to stress. This especially true in the case of beryl which is already cracked or included, as such inclusions can grow deeper. Goshenite should not be exposed to dramatic fluctuations in temperature, and it should be cleaned gently, with mild gemstone cleaning solutions.

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