Red Beryl are bright raspberry to rich gooseberry gemstones from the now depleted Ruby Violet Mine opened in 1958 in Utah’s Wah Wah Mountains.
One of the top ten world’s rarest and most valuable gemstones, Red Beryl’s dwindling supplies, already extremely limited, have pushed prices even higher, making this beautiful, scarce, and highly collectable gemstone even harder to obtain.
Red Beryl displays beautiful, bright raspberry pinks to rich gooseberry reds in a variety of tones and saturations. Like Emerald, visible inclusions, termed ‘jardin’ (French for ‘garden’), are totally acceptable for Red Beryl.
Red Beryl’s extreme geological rarity and characteristic inclusions are due to their formation 18 – 20 million years ago requiring a unique geochemical environment for aluminum, beryllium, manganese, oxygen, and silicon to crystallize.
While optimal lapidary is important for Red Beryl, in terms of value, cutting is an afterthought; lapidaries will facet the largest gems possible due to their small size and scarcity. The biggest Red Beryl crystals are only 2 x 5cm, but most are rarely larger than a carat, yielding faceted gems 0.25 carats or less. Only 10 percent of faceted Red Beryl is over 1 carat and the largest faceted Red Beryl weighs 4.5 carats. Due to Red Beryl’s rarity and popularity with collectors, any size, color or clarity will find a ready buyer.
Discovered in 1904, Red Beryl gemstones are only found in the Wah Wah Mountains near Beaver, Utah. Red Beryl is the rarest member of the Beryl mineral family (from the ancient Greek ‘beryllos’, meaning blue-green stone), commonly known as the ‘mother of gemstones’ because of its highly regarded gem varieties. Pure Beryl is colorless with trace elements responsible for producing Beryl’s wonderful colors. Apart from Red Beryl, other Beryl gemstones include Aquamarine blues, Emerald greens, Golden Beryl yellows, Goshenite whites (colorless), Heliodor greenish-yellows, and Morganite pinks. Red Beryl is colored by trace amounts of manganese along with small quantities of calcium, chromium, and iron. Red Beryl is various tones of pinks to deeply saturated reds, including bright ruby, cherry, gooseberry, raspberry, and strawberry. In 1912 Dr. A. Eppler named Red Beryl ‘Bixbite’ in honor of its discoverer, mineralogist Maynard Bixby (1853 – 1935). Bixbite, along with Red Beryl, was used for many years, but the name was discredited by the World Jewelry Confederation (CIBJO) due to confusion with Bixbyite, also named after Maynard Bixby. Today, ‘Bixbite’ is seldom seen outside of historical literature. Red Beryl was marketed as ‘Red Emerald’ and ‘Scarlet Emerald’ in the 70s, 80s and 90s, but these names are incorrect and misleading. While both Emerald and Red Beryl are members of the Beryl family and share similar inclusion patterns, Emerald by its very definition is green. Synthetic Red Beryl was made in Russia by the hydrothermal process in the mid-90s, but since 2016 is no longer manufactured. Lab-created Red Beryl is easily identified by its crystal shape, inclusions, and absorption spectra, noting Synthetic Red Beryl sells for a small fraction of the genuine article. Red Beryl has been confused with Beryl’s pink cousin, Pezzotaite, a Cesium Beryl found in Afghanistan and Madagascar, but they are easily identified by their refractive index.
Red Beryl are among the world’s rarest, most desirable, and most expensive gemstones. With few Red Beryl crystals approaching gem-quality, most fine specimens are zealously guarded by mineral collectors and never faceted. Red Beryl often appears on top ten lists of the world’s rarest and most valuable gemstones, along with Alexandrite, Benitoite, Black Opal, Grandidierite, Jadeite, Taaffeite, and Painite (The Guinness Book of World Record ranks Painite as the world’s rarest mineral). Red Beryl is estimated to be worth 1,000 times more than gold by weight and is so scarce, the Utah Geological Survey stated only one crystal of Red Beryl is found for every 150,000 gem-quality Diamonds. Fine Red Beryl sells for US$10,000 per carat, leading Forbes to rank it ‘7’ on their list of the ‘12 Most Expensive Gemstones In The World’.
In 1905 the gemstone’s discoverer, Maynard Bixby, opened the Violet Mine, but production was unprofitable and the mine closed. The nearby Ruby Violet Mine was founded by a Uranium prospector in 1958 and yielded better quality crystals, but its various owners struggled with the gem’s mineralization, making commercial mining untenable. The mine ostensibly closed in the late 90s and is currently buried under 40 feet of overburden (earth overlying a mineral deposit). Government regulations made the current owners reclaim the land to a natural state.
Rumors about a new mine elsewhere in the Wah Wahs have been circulating since the 2010 Tucson Gem Show but have come to nothing. Red Beryl has also been found in Utah (Wildhorse Springs, Topaz Valley, Starvation Canyon), New Mexico (Beryllium Virgin prospect, Black Range, East Grants Ridge), and Mexico (San Luis Potosi), but the small crystals unearthed are not gem-quality.
Durability & Care
Red Beryl (Mohs’ Hardness: 7.5 – 8) is an excellent choice for everyday jewelry. Always store Red Beryl carefully to avoid scuffs and scratches. Clean with gentle soap and lukewarm water, scrubbing behind the gem with a very soft toothbrush as necessary. After cleaning, pat dry with a soft towel or chamois cloth.