Red Beryl Information
CHEMISTRY Be3Al2Si6O18 (+Mn, +Cs)
REFRACTIVE INDEX 1.58 – 1.59
HARDNESS 7.5 – 8
SPECIFIC GRAVITY 2.66 – 2.70
HEAT SENSITIVE No
WEARABILITY* Very Good
SPECIAL CARE INSTRUCTIONS None
ENHANCEMENTS Fracture filling, rare
*Wearability is graded as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Poor, and Forget It! For more details see the article on “Hardness and Wearability.”
Discovered in the late 1970′s and still found in gem quality at only one site in the world, the Wah-Wah Mountains of Utah, red beryl, or bixbite, is one of the world’s rarest and most desirable gemstones. Typically as included as its fellow beryl, emerald, few crystals approach gem quality. Most specimens of fine crystals are zealously guarded by mineral collectors and are never faceted.
Found in white volcanic rhyolite; its color is contributed by cesium and manganese. Fewer than 10,000 stones are cut per year with more 95% of those being melee, mostly in lower grades. In the past, various commercial mining ventures have had sporadic success in producing stones, but a new enterprise, using more modern methods, is doing better. Red beryl remains one of the most expensive of all colored gems. In recent years Russian synthetic red beryl has come on the market.
The great rarity of this material and its popularity with collectors means that almost any sized piece in any clarity and color grade can find a ready buyer. The best stones would have a raspberry pink to slightly purplish red color and be no more than slightly included. The rule of exponential increase with increase in size decidedly applies to this gem so often found in sub-carat sizes. Cut is an afterthought, value-wise, in this material as cutters seek to produce the largest possible gem from their rough so windowed stones with poor proportions are in the majority.
Text and photos courtesy of Barbara Smigel at Artistic Colored Stones.