Originally known as bixbite, red beryls are some of the rarest, most desirable, and most expensive gemstones. Discovered in 1904, this member of the beryl family is found in gem quality at only one site, the Wah Wah Mountains in Utah. Most fine crystal specimens are zealously guarded by mineral collectors and never faceted.
Red Beryl Value
The great rarity of this material and its popularity with collectors mean 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 in price with increase in size decidedly applies to this gem so often found in sub-carat sizes. With red beryls, cut is an afterthought, value wise. Gem cutters seek to produce the largest possible gems from their rough. As a result, windowed stones with poor proportions are in the majority.
The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.
Red Beryl Information
|Is a Variety of||Beryl|
|Alternate Common Names||Bixbite|
|Colors||Red, deep rose, raspberry pink|
|Hardness||7.5 - 8|
|Specific Gravity||2.66 - 2.70|
|Stone Sizes||Crystals up to 2" in length. The very few stones known are less than 3 carats.|
|Spectral||Bands at 4250, 4800, 5300, and 5600-5800|
|Wearability||* Very Good|
|Enhancements||Fracture filling, rare|
|Special Care Instructions||None|
|Formula||Be3Al2Si6O18 (+Mn, +Cs, +Ti, +Zn, +Sn, +Li, +Rb, +B, +Zr, +Nb, +Pb and traces of other elements)|
|Optics||RI: o = 1.568-1.572; e = 1.567-1.568; Uniaxial (-)|
|Etymology||Bixbite is named after its discoverer, the mineralogist Maynard Bixby. The preferred name for this gem is red beryl, to avoid confusion with the mineral bixbyite, which is also named after him.|
|Occurrence||In rhyolitic volcanic rocks.|
|Inclusions||Long, hollow tubes, negative crystals, chrysanthemums. Healed and unhealed fractures, growth banding, two-phase inclusions, quartz, and bixbyite.|
Unlike other beryls, red beryl is found in white volcanic rhyolite. Fewer than 10,000 stones are cut per year with more than 95% of those being melee, mostly in lower grades. However, like another beryl, emerald, red beryl is usually included. Few crystals approach gem quality.
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.
Recently, Russian synthetic red beryl has come on the market.
- Wah Wah Mountains, Utah: gem quality
Consult our gemstone care guide for recommended cleaning methods.
by Dr. Joel Arem and Barbara Smigel PhD GG