Under this heading of Pezzottaite, I would like to try and put something in to plain English, something that had me confused for over 18 months. What is the difference between Red Beryl, Bixbite and Pezzottaite?
Firstly, let’s remember that Beryl is the family name (more correctly the species name) for such gemstones as Emerald, Aquamarine, Morganite, Yellow Beryl etc. Remember that Beryl in its purist form is colourless (known as Goshenite) and only through the presence of impurities do the various members of the species gain their colour. These types of gemstones, which receive their colour from impurities, are known as allochromatic gems.
In the GIA gem reference guide issued in 1998 (issued well before I became a gem collector but given to be by my good friend and gem mentor Manuj), they stated “Red Beryl – rare variety with darker and more saturated colour than in Morganite; proposed variety name Bixbite never gained wide acceptance”.
So firstly we know that Bixbite is a trade name for Red Beryl. Its raspberry pink colour is simply breathtaking and, like its sister Emerald, it is often heavily included.
What many were labelling as Bixbite or Red Beryl for many years, later turned out to be a totally different gemstone which today we know as Pezzottaite. This was not through ignorance or for fraudulent reasons, it was simply because the two gemstone were very similar in appearance, composition and structure. In 2002 a new deposit of Bixbite was thought to have been discovered in Madagascar. However, after scientific research was carried out on the mineral, it was discovered to be a new gemstone and it was named Pezzottaite the year after in recognition of the work carried out in Madagascar by Dr Federico Pezzotta.
Bixbite and Pezzottaite have a slightly different chemical composition and not to bore you but the obvious difference is Beryl is ”Be3Al2Si6O18” as opposed to Pezzottaite being “Cs[Be2Li] Al2Si6O18”! As you can see Pezzottaite contains lithium, which is not found in Beryls, and it also has a slightly different crystal structure.