Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2014, Vol. 50, No. 1

Red Beryl – Tucson 2014

Figure 1. This matched suite contains 27.35 carats of faceted oval red beryls. Photo by Eric Welch; courtesy of Equatorian Imports.
At the AGTA show, Ray Zajicek (Equatorian Imports Inc., Dallas) displayed matched red beryls—originally mined from Utah’s Wah Wah Mountains—as suites of jewelry and in loose stone form. According to Zajicek, these gems represent newly marketed inventory cut by Colombian cutters in Gibraltar between 1998 and 2000. Each suite contained 25–30 carats of matched red beryls as emerald, marquise, or oval cuts (figure 1).

Zajicek, who began working with red beryl in the 1980s, said the average faceted gem is approximately 0.08 ct. A 0.50 ct sample would be large, and anything above a carat would be exceptionally rare. This made the matched suites at his booth unique and potentially irreplaceable. Like emerald, red beryl has a range of hues and tones, as well as a typically uneven color distribution that makes it a challenge to match.

Zajicek said there is more red beryl in the ground, but the difficulty of mining makes future production cost-prohibitive. Previous operations had to move more than a ton of hard rock to recover a carat of rough. A carat-sized rough stone is not necessarily cuttable; yields are low, averaging between 8% and 15%.

Red beryl pendant and necklace
Figure 2. Here, red beryls are mounted with benitoite from California in a pendant (left), and with 28.59 carats of unheated Yogo sapphire from Montana in a spectacular necklace (right). Photos by Eric Welch (left) and Robert Weldon (right); courtesy of Equatorian Imports.
Zajicek described red beryl as a beautiful, uniquely American product that is still relatively unknown. Intriguing combinations included a pendant comprised of red beryl mounted with benitoite (figure 2, left), and a red, white, and blue necklace featuring red beryl, Montana blue sapphires, and colorless diamond (figure 2, right).

If there were more viable red beryl mining locations in Utah, the increased production would boost demand and allow greater promotion. As it stands, few would spend money to promote a gem they probably would not be able to obtain in any quantity.

Duncan Pay is editor-in-chief of Gems & Gemology.