Since we have been covering Beryl minerals in the newsletters, we are doing one more called Bixbite. This one is quite rare and is only known to occur in a few places in the Western United States and one location in Mexico. It is also known as Red Beryl or Red Emerald. The red color is due to Manganese though there may be traces of iron, chromium, and calcium. It is the rarest of the Beryl minerals, and like the others, it has a Mohs harness of 7.5 to 8. Due to possible inclusions, there may be some fragility, and it should be treated in the same manner as one would treat an Emerald.
Bixbite often occurs in volcanic rocks known as Rhyolites. The crystals form in low pressure, but high temperature situations. The ideal conditions for the formation of Bixbite is in fractures or cavities and porous areas of Rhyolitic Magmas that occur near the surface.
This gemstone is named after collector and American mineralogist, Maynard Bixby. It is used as a gemstone when it is found. First found in 1904 in the Thomas Mountains in the Western Juab County in Utah, it was discovered at Maynard’s Claim. There is another mineral also named after him called Bixbyite (a black mineral). To avoid confusion, Bixbite is often referred to as Red Beryl, although the name Bixbite is still used. The initial finds were very limited and the quality was poor, rather than gemstone quality.
In 1958 Lamar Hodges found the first gem quality, facetable Bixbite in the Wah Wah Mountains located in Beaver County, Southwestern Utah. So far, this is the only place where gem quality pieces have been found. The Hodges family had twelve claims, known as the Ruby Violet Claims. At the time, Lamar Hodges was searching for Uranium deposits when he found the Bixbite.
In 1998, Gemstone Mining, Inc. of Utah bought the claims for ten million dollars. The claims produce approximately 5,000 to 7,000 carats a year. Gemstone Mining, Inc. is the one who called Bixbite a Red Emerald. It is one of the rarest gemstones in the world. Prices for this gemstone are around $10,000 per carat for top quality specimens. Most finds are under one carat. A two to three carat stone would be considered extremely large. Less than 10,000 stones are cut per year and ninety-five percent of that number are of a lower quality. The Utah Geological Survey states that one gem quality crystal of Bixbite exists for every 150,000 gem quality diamonds.
Some of the red gems being marketed as Bixbite are actually Pezzottaite, which was discovered in Madagascar. While Pezzottaite is also rare, it is less rare and less valuable than Bixbite. The best Bixbite stones will have a raspberry pink to slightly purplish red color, and have very few inclusions. The color, however, can be strawberry, bright ruby, cherry, and sometimes orange in tone. The color is stable up to temperatures around 1832 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the mid-1990s, a Russian synthetic Red Beryl was being produced, but discontinued as of January 2016. Synthetic Bixbite shares most of the physical, chemical, and optical qualities of the naturally occurring Bixbite crystals. It is made through a hydrothermal growth process which is similar to the natural process of crystals formed in the Earth. Seed crystals are introduced in the chemical solution and help promote the gemstone growth. The time to grow the crystals may take from nine months to two years depending on the size of the desired crystal.
Metaphysical Properties: Bixbite is a very powerful crystal. It melds the energy of the heart (4th) and root (1st) chakras. This could make one feel more energized as well as enhance one’s self-esteem. It stimulates creativity and awareness. In addition, it creates harmony and compatibility in relationships. Bixbite may be worn to prevent psychic manipulation.