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Pezzottaite Gemstone

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.

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