Bixbite or Red Beryl is an extremely rare gemstone and is considered to be one of the world's most valuable gemstones. It is estimated that there are less than 100 faceted Bixbite gemstones in the world today. Bixbite is a variety of Beryl and is a member of the Emerald and Aquamarine family. In this article, we will explore the history, properties, mining, and jewelry of Bixbite.
History and Properties:
Bixbite was first discovered in the early 1900s in the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah. The gemstone was named after Maynard Bixby, the mineralogist who discovered it. Bixbite is a rare gemstone due to its limited source of occurrence. The gemstone is formed through a geological process that involves high heat and pressure and is found in volcanic rhyolite deposits. Bixbite is known for its intense red color, which ranges from a deep red to a pinkish-red hue.
The color of Bixbite is due to the presence of manganese and iron in the crystal structure. The gemstone is typically small in size, with faceted gemstones rarely exceeding 1 carat in weight. Bixbite has a Mohs hardness of 7.5-8, making it a relatively hard gemstone. The gemstone has a refractive index of 1.56-1.58, which gives it a high level of brilliance and fire. Bixbite is also relatively dense, with a specific gravity of 2.66-2.70.
Bixbite is found in only a few locations worldwide, with the most significant deposits found in Utah, New Mexico, and Mexico. The gemstone is primarily found in volcanic rhyolite deposits in these areas. The mining of Bixbite is a challenging process due to the limited source of occurrence and the small size of the gemstone. In Utah, Bixbite is mined through open pit mining. Miners use heavy machinery to dig out the rhyolite deposits and then use hand tools to extract the gemstone from the rock.
The mining process is slow and labor-intensive, with only a small percentage of the mined material producing high-quality Bixbite. In New Mexico, Bixbite is mined on private land through underground mining methods. The mines are small, and the gemstone is extracted using hand tools. The mining process is hazardous, with miners working in confined spaces and using explosives to extract the rhyolite deposits.
In Mexico, Bixbite is mined in the Sierra de Cruces Mountains. The mining process is similar to that in Utah, with open pit mining and hand extraction of the gemstone. Bixbite from Mexico is typically smaller in size than those found in Utah.
Due to the rarity of Bixbite, the gemstone is highly sought after in the jewelry industry. Bixbite is primarily used in high-end custom jewelry designs, and the gemstone is typically set in platinum or 18k gold. The intense red color of Bixbite makes it a popular choice for engagement rings and other high-end jewelry pieces. Bixbite is also used as a center stone in cocktail rings, pendants, and earrings.
The gemstone is often paired with diamonds or other precious gemstones, such as Emeralds and Sapphires, to create unique and stunning jewelry pieces. Bixbite is a versatile gemstone and can be used in both modern and vintage-inspired jewelry designs. When purchasing Bixbite jewelry, it is essential to ensure that the gemstone is genuine. Due to the rarity of Bixbite, there are many synthetic and imitation gemstones on the market. A certified gemologist can verify the authenticity of the gemstone through a series of tests and examinations.
Care and Maintenance:
Bixbite is a relatively durable gemstone but should be handled with care to avoid damage. The gemstone should be stored separately from other jewelry pieces to prevent scratching and abrasions. Bixbite should also be protected from exposure to extreme heat and direct sunlight, which can cause discoloration and damage to the gemstone.
Bixbite requires mild soap, warm water, and a soft-bristled brush. The gemstone should be gently scrubbed, rinsed with warm water, and dried with a soft cloth. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners should be avoided, as they can damage the gemstone.
Bixbite or Red Beryl is a rare and valuable gemstone used in high-end custom jewelry designs. The gemstone's intense red color and high level of brilliance make it a popular choice for engagement rings and other special occasions. Bixbite is primarily mined in Utah, New Mexico, and Mexico, and the mining process is challenging due to the limited source of occurrence and the small size of the gemstone. Bixbite is a durable gemstone but should be handled with care and cleaned using mild soap and warm water. Bixbite is a stunning gemstone that is sure to be a treasured addition to any jewelry collection.