Red Beryl / bixbite is a rare, expensive, red variety of beryl, not to be confused with bixbyite, a completely
different, less valuable mineral.
Formation and Resources
During the late Cretaceous (100 - 65 mya) the younger ranges of the Rocky Mountains were created, and deep fractures
appeared which reached deep into the crust. In course of volcanic activities (appr. 20 mya), five or more layers of
volcanic topaz rhyolite lava flows covered areas in todays Utah. Then hot fluorine and beryllium-rich
gases and vapors, rising through shrinkage cracks of the cooled lava, met groundwater resources near the surface.
The water evaporated and left behind niches or miarolitic cavities and porous areas in which the remaining steam
could react under low pressure and high temperatures (300° - 650° C) with the rising mineral-rich gases so
that red beryl crystals could grow.
Red beryl occurs only in silica-rich, topaz-bearing rhyolites (volcanic origin), associated with bixbyite, hematite,
orthoclase, pseudobrookite, quartz, and spessartine. Extremely rare gemmy mineral can only be found at
three locations in the USA:
2. "Thomas Range" ("Maynard's Claim") in the western desert of Utah (near Wildhorse Springs, 65 km NW of Delta
/ Juab County) with gemmy, dark red to light raspberry-pink crystals in light grey rhyolite. This location is a
classic, popular mineral location to rock collecting enthusiasts, worldwide known for its topaz crystals. The
"Thomas Range", especially its "Topaz Mountain", was discovered in 1859 by Henry Engelmann. The "Topaz Mountain"
is visited yearly by thousands of collectors seeking topaz and other rare minerals.
* Photo by kind permission of Sarah Sudcowsky.
3. "Black Range" in Sierra County / New Mexico where small crystals occur in white rhyolite, similar to the
"Thomas Range". Here red beryls can be found at "Paramount Canyon" and "Round Mountain" / Taylor Creek Tin
In 2002, a pinkish, gemmy beryl was discovered in Madagascar, at first thought to be red beryl but then introduced as
a new beryl variety, less valuable than bixbite: pezzotaite.
The rare, red color of red beryl is caused by Mn2+, substituting the Al atoms in the beryl crystal.
The best color is a clear, rich red ("stoplight") with some blue overtones.
Red beryl colors vary from orange-red, rose,
raspberry purplish to dark red, with medium tones.
Red beryl is the rarest member of the beryl family. Unfortunately there is just a small production of
gemmy crystals because of their rarity. Most faceted stones are under 1 ct, and most of them are more or less
included or appear as opaque "bubble gum" quality. Nevertheless "bubble gum" colored red beryls are offered,
sometimes in good quality.
Red beryl is estimated to be about thousand times worthier than gold! Faceted, clean stones with a "stop-light"
color over 1 ct are extremely rare and priced as such, reaching sometimes over $10,000 / ct (in 2007).
The largest, yet recovered red beryl crystal was 1.4 x 3.4 cm (54 ct). The largest faceted stone (not clear)
weighs 8.0 ct. Nevertheless the usual size of good, faceted red beryl is only 0.15 ct!
K. Hyslop, CEO of Gemstone Mining Inc.: "There is only one red emerald for every 150,000 diamonds, 12,000 - 15,000
emeralds, and 7,000 - 8,000 rubies. Only one woman in 3 million can own a 0.80 ct or larger red emerald. These goods
are really fit for royalty, only one woman in 50 million could own a large red emerald necklace." (Source:
"Red Emerald or Red Beryl" in The Gemstone Forecaster, Vol. 18 No.3)
Difference between Bixbite and Pezzotaite
Rough red beryl occurs as hexagonal crystals with all 6 sides equal, terminating in flat ends. Pezzottaite
forms trigonal crystals terminating pyramid-shaped. Pezzottaite crystals are usually larger than red beryl.
A red beryl's matrix is associated with white or grayish rhyolite. Pezzottaite is attached to gray granite.
Usually red beryl isn't flawless if heavier than 1/10 ct. It is usually included, and shows internal fractures,
veils of rhyolite, and/or black lumps. Pezzottaite is usually included with bubbles and internal fractures.
Red Beryl has a refracture index of 1.567 - 1.580, pezzotaite has a refracture index of 1.601 - 1.620.