4Be Beryllium

Year Discovered

1797 (First isolated in 1828)

Discovered By

Nicholas Louis Vauquelin of France

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.


Named for the gemstone beryl, of which it is a component. Beryllium is a soft, silvery-white, shiny metal. It is very light and has a high melting point, so it is desirable for use in metal alloys. It is used in alloys with nickel and copper as a light-weight structural material. Beryllium has a very high elasticity, consequently it is often used for gears and springs and other elastic devices. It is transparent to X-rays, so it often is used to make windows in X-ray tubes. Compounds of beryllium are very poisonous. Even dust of the powdered metal or its oxide may cause very serious illness when inhaled.

Biological Benefits

Beryllium has no known biological use.

Role in Life Processes

NONE (some forms can be toxic to humans)


Beryllium is obtained from the minerals beryl and bertrandite. Beryl provides green emerald and blue aquamarine gemstones. Other beryllium-bearing minerals include chrysoberyl, gadolinite and herderite. It is mined in the USA, China, Russia and Brazil.