Originally known as bixbite, red beryls are some of the rarest, most desirable, and most expensive gemstones.
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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.
Red beryl, medium-dark red, 0.60 cts, 6.5 x 5 mm, custom hexagon cut, Wah Wah Mountains, Utah. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.
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.
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.
Unlike other beryls, red beryl occurs in white volcanic rhyolite. Lapidaries cut fewer than 10,000 stones per year, with more than 95% of those being melee, mostly in lower grades. 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.
Although it has an exception hardness of 7.5 to 8, red beryls can have many inclusions. Extremely rare faceted pieces may also have received fracture fillings. Therefore, for care purposes, treat these gems like emeralds, another beryl gem. However, you’ll more likely encounter these gems in a mineral collection than in a jewelry collection. Consult our gemstone care guide for recommended cleaning methods.