Barite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

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

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.

Barite Value

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Faceted

1 carat plus
Yellow
to /ct
Colorless
to /ct
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Barite Information

Data Value
Name Barite
Alternate Common Names Baryte
Crystallography Orthorhombic. Tabular crystals, aggregates and rosettes; massive, granular, fibrous, earthy, stalactitic.
Refractive Index 1.636-1.648
Colors Colorless, white, grayish, yellowish to brown, blue, green, reddish. May be color zoned.
Luster Vitreous to resinous; pearly on cleavage.
Hardness 3-3.5
Fracture Even
Specific Gravity 4.50 (pure); usually 4.3-4.6
Birefringence 0.012
Cleavage Perfect 1 direction
Dispersion 0.016
Heat Sensitivity Yes
Luminescence See “How to Identify Barite” below.
Luminescence Present Yes
Luminescence Type Fluorescent, Phosphorescent, UV-Long, UV-Short
Transparency Transparent to opaque
Formula BaSO4 + Ca, Sr
Pleochroism See “How to Identify Barite” below.
Optics α = 1.636; β = 1.637; γ = 1.648. Biaxial (+), 2V = 37°.
Optic Sign Biaxial +
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.
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.

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.

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