Barite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Massive white barite (also called known as baryte) looks like marble and could be used for decorative purposes. In spite of the abundance of good crystals, cut barites aren't commonly seen, especially in rich colors.

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Massive white barite (also called known as baryte) looks like marble and could be used for decorative purposes. In spite of the abundance of good crystals, cut barites aren’t commonly seen, especially in rich colors.

Medium slightly brownish yellow, emerald radiant-cut 67.85-ct barite, 28.1 x 17 mm, Madagascar. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

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faceted barites
Barites: South Dakota (4.7), Colorado (9.4, 9.1). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

What is Barite?

Barite forms a series with celestite as the barium (Ba) analogue to strontium (Sr)-rich celestite. As a mineral, barite occurs in many locations around the world and has many industrial uses, including being the principal source of barium.

Does Barite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

Crystal barites aren't rare. In fact, collectors can obtain large, transparent stones in almost any desired color with very few exceptions.

colorless barites - Peru
Cluster of transparent, almost colorless tabular barite crystals on matrix. Overall size: 56 mm x 53 mm. Major crystal: 22 mm wide, 3 mm thick. Cerro Warihuyn (Huarihuyn), Miraflores, Huamalies Province, Huanuco Department, Peru. Photo by Carlesmillan. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

However, gem cutters will find faceting barite quite challenging. These gems have low hardness (3-3.5), brittle tenacity, perfect cleavage, and heat sensitivity. Facet junctions on any cut gems also tend to be rounded.

Due to barite's fragility, jewelry use isn't advisable. Nevertheless, faceted barites would likely appeal to collectors of unusual gemstones or aficionados of the art of gem cutting.

cushion-cut barite - Italy
This yellow barite gem has received not only an expert cut but also an exceptional polish. Polishing such a soft material to this level is very difficult. Cushion cut, 32.95 cts, 16.8 x 13.3 mm, Sardinia, Italy. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

What is a "Desert Rose?"

In desert regions, minerals such as gypsum and barite can occur as tabular crystals with rose-like shapes. (The crystals form the petals of the rose, so to speak). These stones contain trapped sand particles.

desert rose - Oklahoma
Barite rose from Oklahoma, USA (2.8 cm across at its widest). Photo by James St. John. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

How to Identify Barite

Barite's relatively high specific gravity (SG) of 4.3 to 4.6 can help distinguish it from many other gems of similar appearance.

Barite is also diamagnetic. An externally applied magnetic field will repel it.

barites, crystal and gem, Italy
Barite crystal and faceted gem. Photo by Cliff. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Pleochroism

Colored barite crystals can display weak pleochroism.

  • Brown crystal: straw yellow/wine yellow/violet
  • Yellow crystal: pale yellow/yellow-brown/brown
  • Green crystal: colorless/pale green/violet

Luminescence

Generally, inert to cream, bluish, or greenish in longwave (LW) ultraviolet light.

Colored barites from these sources may fluoresce under shortwave (SW) ultraviolet as follows:

  • White (Germany, Ohio)
  • Blue-green (Germany, England)
  • Gray (Germany)

Colored barites from these sources may also fluoresce under LW ultraviolet as follows:

  • Greenish white, yellow-green (Germany)
  • Pinkish white (Ohio)
  • Cream-white (South Dakota)

Barites may also phosphoresce, and some may show thermoluminescence, which means they luminesce when heated.

  • barite and cerrusite, normal light - Morocco
  • barite and cerrusite, UV light - Morocco

    Cerussite and baryte under white light and ultraviolet longwave. Bou Bekker, Touissit, Touissit District, Oujda-Angad Province, Oriental Region, Morocco. Photos by Géry Parent. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

    Are There Synthetic Barites?

    Scientists have synthesized barite crystals for mineralogical research purposes. However, such synthetic material has no known jewelry use.

    There are no known gem treatments for barites.

    Where are Barites Found?

    Many localities worldwide may yield clean, gem-quality barite. Some notable sources include the following:

    • United States: Sterling area, Colorado (exquisite blue crystals, some facetable); Illinois; Meade County, South Dakota (fine brown crystals, facetable).
    cushion-cut barite - South Dakota
    Medium dark brown-yellow, custom cushion-cut 14.82-ct barite, 18.3 x 11 mm, Elk Creek, Meade County, South Dakota. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.
    • Canada: Rock Candy Mine, British Columbia (facetable yellow crystals, up to 4 inches long); Thunder Bay District, Ontario (colorless crystals suitable for cutting).
    • United Kingdom: Cumberland, England (fine crystals, sometimes very large, facetable areas).
    • Brazil; China; France; Germany; Italy; Madagascar; Morocco; Namibia; Peru; Russia; South Africa.
    faceted barite - France
    Barite: France (65.1). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Stone Sizes

    Large crystals, usually flawed, have many facetable areas. Madagascar rough has produced faceted gems over 100 carats. English material will yield stones up to about 50 carats. (One specimen is known to be over 300 carats). Faceters have cut yellow-brown crystals from France as large as 65 carats. Colorado gems typically range from 1 to 5 carats but can weigh more.

    Notable barites in private collections include:

    • A 42-ct golden-orange, cushion-cut gem (British Columbia).
    • A 108-ct dark brown, oval-cut gem (South Dakota).
    faceted barite - Madagascar
    Custom cushion-cut barite, 133 cts, 30.7 x 25 mm, Madagascar. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

    How to Care for Barites

    Clean barites only with a warm damp cloth, detergent, and soft brush. For more care recommendations, consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide.

    faceted barite
    Barite (39.2). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

    Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

    Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


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