Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia

Vladimir Bukanov. Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia



BARYTE (Baryt—Barytine—Ѕарит) (Licetus, 1640 in Karsten, D.L.G., 1800), from Gk. “barys” – heavy, because of its high density.

Composition & Properties. Sulfate group – Ba[SO4], orthorhombic system. Hardness 3-3.5. Density 4.4-4.5. Glass luster or pitch one, nacre one on the cleavage planes. Perfect cleavage in three directions. Fragile. Baryte forms a row of constant miscibility with celestine. Baryte is found in plate, more rarely in columnar crystals, as well as in the shape of spherical concretions of Bologna spar, in wandering formations and grained masses resembling marble. Transparent to half-transparent. Color: in a pure form it is colorless, snow-white, because of admixtures it can be light blue, brownish or reddish, yellow or green. According the zones of growing it contains inclusions of hematite, sulfides and bitumen sometimes.

Deposits. It is formed in hydrothermal veins of ore deposits, in sedimentary rocks, as a product of sediment from hot springs or in the form of pseudomorphs on organic remains. Because of the wide extent of deposits of baryte, we will mention only the most interesting in gemological sense among them. In Russia and in the adjacent countries, they didn’t pay special attention on findings of crystals of transparent baryte, that’s why the list of such objects is limited. In the Northern Caucasus, there is the Dzhalankol deposit and the El’brus mine, in the upper reaches of the Kuban River, with crystals of baryte up to 40 cm. long, sometimes transparent. To the south from Maikop, in the Krasnodar Region, there is another large Belorechenskoye deposit, where baryte is represented with beautiful druses with powdering of pyrite. In the Transbaikalia, there is the Abagaitui deposit with yellow baryte crystals up to 3 cm.; in Rep. of Tyva, there is the Terligkhaiskiy mine in the region of Kyzyl. In South Kyrgyzstan, at the Kadamdzhai deposit, baryte in crystals up to 4 cm. is found in clusters with antimonite, and at the Modygen deposit, in the Fergana Valley – in red-brown druses. In 1935, in the north of the Tadzhikistan, at the Parvinskoye deposit, in the region of Chimtagar, they discovered optic baryte in crystals up to 30 cm., and at the Dzhizhikrut deposit crystals of baryte contain inclusions of cinnabar. In the south of the Tadzhikistan, in the region of Kûlob, there is the Khermonzhou deposit with crystals of barytocelestine, or celestinobaryte. In Uzbekistan, transparent crystals of baryte up to 4 cm. were found at the Ketmenchi deposit, in the Fergana Region. In the Ukraine, at the Kerchenskoye deposit, fine-grained white baryte forms sphaerolites in shells with vivianite and vivianite pseudomorphs on fossil wood.

In Europe, transparent blue and yellow baryte crystals up to 16 cm. long were found in Romania, at the deposits Cavnic (form. Kapnic) and Baia Sprie. At the last one, yellowish-orange crystals of baryte up to 7 cm. in cross-section were enriched with inclusions of realgar. In Slovakia, at the RudÀany they extracted a crystal of baryte, 100x20 cm. in size. In Czech Rep., pink crystals of baryte were found at the Príbram deposit; and at the Honçova Hûrka deposit, near Príbor, its crystals reached 15 cm. long. In Great Britain, at the Silverband and Dufton mines, Westmoreland Co., they found crystals of baryte up to 30 cm. long, 45 kg. in weight; and near Newhaven, Derbyshire, brown stalactites of baryte, resembling fossil wood, are characterized with stripped texture. In Morocco, in the High Atlas Mts., they discovered chalcedony pseudomorphs on baryte. At the Touissit deposit, near Udjd, they found transparent crystals of pink baryte; and at the Taouz deposit, 210 km. north-east from Midelt, they extracted baryte crystals up to 1 m. long. In the U.S.A., in Colorado, they extracted pale blue baryte at the Sterling deposit and colorless one at the Grand Junction deposit. In the Nebraska State, small pink and yellow crystals of baryte with weak asterism are popular – Odell diamonds from the Gage Co. In South Dakota – yellow-brown crystals to 15 cm. in concretions at Elk Creek, Mead Co.; and in Colorado, splendid blue crystals to 16 cm. occur at Stoneham, Weld Co. In the states of Oklahoma and also of Ohio – at the Noble deposit, Cleveland Co., they found beautiful desert’s roses of baryte crystals up to 1 m. in cross-section. In Canada, at the Rock Kandy deposit, British Columbia, they find yellow crystals of baryte up to 10 cm. long; and in the Ontario, at the deposits Beaver Junior and Thunder Bay – colorless crystals of baryte.

Synonyms. Angleso-baryte, with an increased level of lead content | Barolite | Baroselenite | Bologna stone, after the discovery location near Bologna, Italy, or boulanite | Michel-lévite, after Fr. petrologist A. Michel-Lévy | Columnar spar | Heavy spar | Stangenspath | Tungspat.

Treatment. For jewelry-ornamental and collection purposes transparent crystals of baryte are of special interest; they make faceted stones from them. Colorless stones up to 10 ct. were made from baryte crystals in Colorado, the U.S.A.; up to 50 ct. – at deposits of Great Britain; up to 60 ct. – in France, where the stones were yellow-brown. The maximum weight of a faceted baryte was more than 300 ct. Bright colored varieties are cut in cabochon.

Similarity. Baryte looks like celestine, and alas well as lamellar varieties of albite and calcite.