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Colombian Emeralds

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Symmetry

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Many crystals exhibit a property known as symmetry, which can be described by the molecular arrangements of atoms within a crystalline structure. Crystal symmetry can occur in a number of defined arrangements, mostly based upon the number and configuration of the various axis. Examples of such symmetric patterns include cubic, tetragonal, and hexagonal.

Beryl-based minerals such as aquamarine, morganite, and emerald all possess a hexagonal symmetry, which can easily be seen by observing an emerald crystal prior to cutting and faceting. The hexagonal symmetry can also be seen in the molecular structure of beryl, shown at right.

Impurities such as vanadium and chromium within the crystalline structure contribute to the emeralds uniquely green color. In the case of other beryl silicates, different combinations of impurities contribute to their different colors.

In highly unusual cases, two emerald crystals will grow simultaneously in the same space, causing unique 12-sided dodecagonal pillar.



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