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.
The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.
|Alternate Common Names||Baryte|
|Crystallography||Orthorhombic. Tabular crystals, aggregates and rosettes; massive, granular, fibrous, earthy, stalactitic.|
|Colors||Colorless, white, grayish, yellowish to brown, blue, green, reddish. May be color zoned.|
|Luster||Vitreous to resinous; pearly on cleavage.|
|Specific Gravity||4.50 (pure); usually 4.3-4.6|
|Cleavage||Perfect 1 direction|
|Luminescence||See “Identifying Characteristics” below.|
|Transparency||Transparent to opaque.|
|Formula||BaSO4 + Ca, Sr|
|Pleochroism||See “Identifying Characteristics” below.|
|Optics||α = 1.636; β = 1.637; γ = 1.648. Biaxial (+), 2V = 37°.|
|Etymology||From the Greek baros, “heavy,” because of its high specific gravity.|
|Occurrence||Barite is common in low temperature hydrothermal vein deposits; also as a component of sedimentary rocks, sometimes in large beds; as concretions, in clay deposits, and rarely in cavities in igneous rocks. Good crystals abundant worldwide.|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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; Morocco; Namibia; Peru; Russia.
Large crystals, usually flawed, have many facetable areas. 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 range from 1 to 5 carats.
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).
Due to barite’s fragility, jewelry use isn’t advisable. Clean these gems only with a warm damp cloth, detergent, and soft brush. For more care recommendations, consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide.