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Bixbite (also know as red beryl) is a member of beryl family that you may not have ever heard of. There are many members of the beryl family including, morganite, golden beryl, aquamarine, and emerald. While emerald is by far the most famous member of the group, it is certainly not the rarest. That honour belongs to red beryl, or bixbite.
All beryl family members fall under the chemical composition of beryllium aluminium cyclosiclicate. Pure beryl is colourless, and the various colours beryl comes in is due to the presence of impurities. Iron produces golden beryl and aquamarine, while emerald comes from chromium and vanadium impurities. Bixbite and Morganite are due to manganese. Colourless beryl, or white beryl, is called goshenite.
Bixbite, or red beryl, was initially described back in 1904 when it was discovered in Western Utah’s Thomas range. Bixbite was found at Maynard’s Claim, thus it was named, by Alfred Eppler, after the American mineralogist Maynard Bixby.
There has been dispute with regards to its name- with many commonly referring to it as bixbite, while others using red beryl and red emerald. All of them refer to the same gemstone.
Now, however, the World Jewellery Confederation has denounced the name bixbite. This is to avoid its confusion with the mineral bixbyite- which was also named after Maynard Bixby.
The red beryl concentrations at the initial site were incredibly small, and the material that was found was not of gem-quality. Facetable material wasn’t discovered until 1958. This discovery was made in Southwestern Utah’s Wah Wah Mountains by Lamar Hodges. There were 12 claims staked, four for ruby and 8 for violet. The Hodge family worked the mines as a hobby, and the area was named the Ruby Violet Claims.
This is the only known site in the world that produces red beryl, the Jewel of Utah. The most desirable gemstones are deep pink in colour and the clearer the better. It rates at 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Gemstone Mining, Inc. bought the Ruby Violet Claim in 1998 for ten million dollars. Its annual yield is around 5 to 7,000 carats. GMI markets its product as red emerald, touting it as one of the rarest gemstones on the planet. High quality specimens cost as much as ten thousand dollars per carat. Most of the specimens are under a carat, so any stone that is two or three carats is considered large.
Red beryl is still incredibly rare, so before making a purchase you should insist on certification obtained from a recognized gemmological lab. The Jewellers Association named it the rarest gemstone on earth in early 2006. It replaced benitoite, which had been the rarest gem for many years. The prices soared and their availability became scarce.
Synthetic or Man Made Bixbite
It was first lab-created by a lab in Russia in the mid 1990’s. The lab used a hydrothermal process to create the bixbite, however, as of 2016 the lab was no longer producing it.
Red Beryl created in a lab has the same physical properties and composition as natural red beryl. Gemmologists that are familiar with the materials have no problem differentiating between the two as there are differences in inclusions, crystal shape, and absorption spectra. Lab created bixbite is cut into faceted stones and sell for just a fraction of the price that the natural stone commands.
The Pezzottaite Discovery
Some of the gems that are being marketed as bixbite or red beryl are actually the Madagascan pezzottaite, a newer variety of gemstone. While pezzottaite is also rare, it isn’t as valuable as bixbite. It has a different chemical composition, refractive index, and density. It’s an entirely different mineral. The gemstone has become more available after a find in Afghanistan.
The initial reports of the find in Madagascar reported the find as bixbite, but further research found this to be incorrect. Pezzottaite contains lithium. Bixbite does not. Additionally, the crystals grow in a different formation and while it is similar in appearance, trained gemmologists can differentiate between the two.
The amount of pezzottaite that has been mined from the Afghanistan claim so far exceeds the amount of bixbite that has ever been mined in the century since it’s discovery. Pezzottaite is much larger, and clearer.
The Spiritual Aspect of Bixbite
Bixbite develops in certain metamorphic rocks, and pegmatites, occurring in microcline, quartz, muscovite, and almandine. It is commonly known as a stone of healing and soothing, and it’s used by mystics to bring relationships harmony, and its used to enhance compatibility. It’s used to enhance creative energy, as well as to assist in healing depression and grief. Intuitive sources suggest it is good for healing issues that are associated with the heart, mouth, liver, throat, lungs, digestive system, stomach, as well as the physical energy level. All shades of bixbite are considered helpful in breaking down intolerance and prejudices. It was frequently worn to prevent deliberate psychic manipulation, the type that was frequently practiced by evangelists, politicians, and salespeople. It was also known as tagging or cording, which is when an astral line is attached through the third chakra, this cord could then be used to manipulate your actions, and drain your energy. As a response people would tape a small piece of bixbite over the navel and leave it in place until the cording was broken, which was usually 24 hours.
You should always buy from reputable dealers. Many sellers will attempt to sell fake bixbite, or mislead you on what you are actually purchasing, because the value and price of this gemstone has skyrocketed. If the gemstone has inclusions breaking through the surface of the stone, ensure your dealer is reputable. Many stones were altered by having dye and glass injected into its surface to make it appear clearer or darker than it actually was.