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RED BERYL/BIXBITE DISPUTE- WHAT ARE YOU BUYING?

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RED BERYL/BIXBITE DISPUTE- WHAT ARE YOU BUYING?
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There seems to be an on-going dispute over Red Beryl/Bixbite and it's rarity. Here is a guide to help you understand what you're looking at, and what to look for when buying.

 

In the very early 1900's, a man named Maynard Bixby discovered a new type of crystal in the Violet Topaz Mine, located in the Wah Wah area of the Thomas mountain range in Utah.  Bixby wasn't certain of what he found, so sent a crystal specimen to a geochemist, who reported back that the specimen was, in fact, red Beryl. Mining began for this new gem stone, but the mine yielded only a small amount of rough before it was agreed that it was too costly to continue mining, and the Violet mine closed down permanantly.

The first disput came about when trying to decide what to call this new gem stone. Bixbite, after the discoverer, became the common name. Red Beryl was also used. Red Emerald started being circulated. They were all true, and all reffered to the same gem.

Today, you will find it under all of these names. There never has been an agreement on an 'official' name, so they are all considered correct.

Early on in 2006, the Jewelers Association named Bixbite as the rarest gemstone on earth. This replaced Benitoite as the rarest gem, a standing that Benitoite has held for many years.  Bixbite prices soared, and the amount of gem available became scarce.  News of a new source of Bixbite in Madagascar proved to be wrong. There was a gem being mined there, but it's chemical composition was slightly different. This new gem contained Lithium, which Bixbite doesn't have. Also, the new gem's crystals grew in a different formation. This was NOT a new source for Bixbite, but something altogether new. The new gem became known as Pezzottaite. It is very similar to Bixbite in appearance, but a trained gemologist can tell the difference. The refractive index is different, as is the density and specific gravity of the stone.

 

Although Pezzottaite is a rare gem, it is nowhere near as rare as Bixbite. There has been a new mine found in Afghanistan for Pezzottaite, and the amount of rough mined to date far exceeds the amount of Bixbite ever mined. The crystals of Pezzottaite are much larger, and in many cases much clearer, yielding a bigger and better quality of gem. When buying a gem stone, be sure that you are indeed buying Bixbit, or red Beryl. Those gems listed as "New Red Beryl" are, in fact, Pezzottaite.

So, what should you look for in Bixbite?  The most desireable gems are those with a deep pink color, and as clear as possible. Bixbite is a beryl, like emerald, and inclusions are commonplace. A gem over a carat or more is also desirable, but it is unlikely you will find many that big. Bixbite crystals were usually under two carats, which left very small gems after faceting.

Be careful who you buy Bixbite from. Buy from only reputable dealers, preferably one you know. Because the price and value of this gem has skyrocketed, some sellers may try to sell you a 'fake' Bixbite, or mislead you into believing you are buying Bixbite. If buying a gem that has inclusions that have broken the surface of the stone, make sure that the dealer is very reputable.  There have been stones found that were altered by having glass and dye injected into these surface inclusions to make the gem appear darker or clearer than it truly was.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand a little more about this beautiful gem.

Laura Wright

Gemologist

Gold Rush Gemstones

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