Fighting for prominence in gemstone market is not a new thing, but the way red beryl sellers are arguing about the authenticity of bixbyite is worth reporting. There is a long story behind the origin of bixbyite and how it mesmerized the gemstone collectors with its seductive appearance and rarity. Unmatched by red beryl, bixbyite today tops the list of most prized gemstones in the market. More so, Red beryl gemstones are often passed off as bixbyites!
Here is a reliable guide to help buyers make an informed choice between red beryls and bixbyite, and to measure similarities between the two.
Believe it or not, red beryl was earlier called bixbite, referring to its discoverer, Maynard Bixby in early 20th century. Red beryl, like other beryls in the family, was first found in Utah, USA. The dark red colour in the gemstone is attributed to the presence of Mn+3ions. It is now found only in a handful of locations—Wah Wah Mountains, Paramount Canyon and New Mexico.
Bixbyite is a manganese iron oxide gemstone with variable amounts of iron and manganese ions. Unlike red beryl, bixbyite is a dark coloured gemstone with no red streaks. It is physically different from red beryls and show isometric crystal structures. It was also named by Maynard Bixby, after discovering it in the year 1897.
So, Bixbite and Bixbyite are named after the same person, but have different physical properties.
Which is the rarest?
Bixbyite gemstone and red berly, undoubtedly are the rarest of them all. In fact, in 2006, Red beryl replaced Benitonite as the rarest gemstone. The prices soared manifold, which was capitalized by the other sellers as well. The mania was so hard to control that the gemstone sellers released a stone with similar composition called Pezzottaite. It has a different refractive index, density and specific gravity.
Pezzottaite is marketed as raspberyl or raspberry beryl, owing to its resemblance to the colour of the fruit. Though similar in appearance to red beryls, raspberyl is harder with Mohs Scal factor of 8.0.
Red beryls are sold for a whopping price of $70,000 per carat. Only 5000 carats of red beryl is produced every year, which means that the prices are doubling up every year. Only 10,000 red beryls are cut every year, mostly with inclusions and unhealed fractures.
Bixbyite, though rare, is not as costly as the red beryls. They could fetch only $300 per carat.
Red beryls, to meet the market demand, are subjected to pressure and resin reinforcement. Just like emerald and sapphire gemstones, these gems are sold in the market filled with resins, polished with oils. These treatments are not permanent and the stone begins to lose the sheen in less than 24 months.
If you are buying the stone from a reputed showroom, ensure you have a return policy in place. You might be using it in next few months, unless you have been give an original stone extracted from Wah Wah Mountains.
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