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What is Benitoite?

Less than a million faceted carats of Red Emerald exist on Earth, compared to over 100 million carats of diamonds mined EVERY YEAR. There are at least 12,000 carats of rubies and over 20,000 carats of green emerald for each single carat of red which exists. This led the National Jeweler's Association to name Red Beryl the "Rarest Gemstone in the World" in 2006.

Before 2006, the scarcest stone on the planet was considered to be Benitoite, a bright blue stone which is also produced from only one location in the United States, much like the Red Emerald. The small area in San Benito County, California where Benitoite was first reported in 1907 remains to this day the single place where gem quality material has been found.

Benitoite has a high specific gravity, making it more dense than diamond, although not nearly as hard. A one carat Benitoite is smaller than a one carat diamond, making them difficult to obtain in large sizes.

The number of faceted Benitoite larger than this 9.12 carat example

can be counted on one hand...with room to spare.

Because of the manner of development, Benitoite is classified as a Type II gemstone in the Gemological Institute of America's clarity classification system, which means Benitoite is expected to have the same level of inclusions as would be found in an unheated Sapphire, although Benitoite is far more rare.

The color and refractive index of Benitoite is very close to Sapphire, but Benitoite is unresponsive to heat. Unlike Sapphire, the clarity and color of a Benitoite will not improve through heat treatment of ordinary blue stones, which means they are all completely natural and unenhanced. However, the rarer White Benitoite will transform into a bright orange color if exposed to high temperatures.

The shape of a crystal has an effect on the behavior of light within rough, and the movement of light within a gem is an important consideration when faceting a stone. When scientists established a system for the evaluation of crystal forms in nature, they were left with a hypothetical structure which had not been observed in gemstone material before. Benitoite's naturally-occurring crystal form fit the Ditrigonal Dipyramidal class so well, its name became synonymous with this type of crystal structure. Benitoite is part of the Hexagonal crystal system, just like Red Emeralds. The shape of all beryl crystals are the ultimate form of the Hexagonal system, in the Dihexagonal Dipyramidal class.

Benitoite is a champion of light. Benitoite possesses a greater ability to disperse light than diamond. Benitoite also fluoresces under short-wave ultraviolet light, which means they glow like neon signs when taken into black light conditions such as those commonly experienced at parties or in clubs…maybe this is why Benitoite is such a fun gemstone!

All of these unique gemological attributes helped make Benitoite the state gemstone of California in 1985.

We regularly use Benitoite with Red Emerald to create some of the finest jewelry ever fabricated from these exclusively American gemstones.


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