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Geosciences LibreTexts

16.04.02: Bixbite

  • Page ID
    4029
  • Bixbite
    Chemical composition Be3Al2(SiO3)6Beryllium aluminum silicate
    Crystal system Hexagonal
    Habit Prismatic
    Cleavage Basal, poor
    Fracture Conchoidal to uneven
    Hardness 7.5 - 8
    Optic nature Uniaxial -
    Refractive index 1.561 - 1.577
    Birefringence 0.004 - 0.009
    Dispersion Low, 0.014
    Specific gravity 2.63 - 2.72
    Lustre Vitreous
    Pleochroism Weak

    Bixbite.jpg

    Bixbite (or "red beryl") is the allochromatic orange-red to purplish-red variety of beryl which owes its color to manganese (Mn) impurities.
    Physical and optical properties may be slightly higher than usual beryl properties.

    Bixbite was named after Maynard Bixby of Utah, USA.
    Locations where this rare mineral is found include Utah and New Mexico, USA.

    Bixbite is rarely free from inclusions (most are heavily included) and stones above 3ct. are scarce.

    Red (bixbite) and pink (morganite) beryls are now manufactured using the hydrothermal process by Biron International in Australia, by ANICS in Japan and by Novosibirsk in Russia. The coloring agent in these synthetics is titanium and/or cobalt, opposed to larger quantities of manganese in their natural counterparts.
    The pleochroism in these synthetics is usually medium to strong whereas it would be weak in natural red beryl. The distinguishing factor for the hydrothermal synthetic red beryls is inhomogeneous growth patterns seen under magnification.