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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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).
- 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.
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).
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.
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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