What is the Gemstone Benitoite
Benitoite is a rare blue silicate mineral, found in hydrothermally altered serpentinite. Benitoite fluoresces under short wave ultraviolet light, appearing light blue in color. Dr. Louderback, who conducted the discovery examination of this mineral, named it Benitoite, “as it occurs near the head waters of the San Benito River in San Benito County,” California
Benitoite’s main uses are as collector’s specimens, especially in specimens which show off this mineral’s unique crystals, or specimens in which benitoite occurs with its commonly associated minerals. Benitoite’s hardness also makes it suitable for use as a gemstone, though the general lack of usable material has limited this use.
What Is It That Makes Certain Gemstones Truly Precious And Rare?
Gemstones, popularly known as precious stones are extremely stunning and dazzling. They are available in different shapes, sizes and colors, which make them even more impressive. Usually gemstones are worn, according to your date and month of birth, as they bring happiness and prosperity to our lives. But now days, most of us wear them according to their beauty, such as a diamond, which is the king of all stones, and a must for every woman. But most of us do not know the significance of these stones in our life, or what is it that makes them so precious and expensive is, is it the beauty of the stone, or the power.
It is a known fact, that precious gems are minerals of the earth, which have been carved, and polished, making them look so gorgeous. Diamond, one of the most powerful gems, is a polymorph of the element carbon, in earth. It is usually found in South Africa. An emerald, which is green in color, is made of Beryllium Al Silicate, found in the Columbian and Muzo mines. While a sapphire known as the “destiny gem,” is made of aluminum oxide, extensively found in Sri-Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia.
All gemstones are precious, but they are commonly ranked according to their availability. Rare gems are the most expensive and powerful gems. You should be very careful while picking your gemstone, as pure gems has the most powerful effect on the body. However, it is very difficult to get pure gems these days. Diamonds are one of the most common gems available today. However, due to controlled distribution, they are very expensive and valuable.
Other stones such as sapphire, ruby and emerald are much rarer than diamonds. Ruby is from the mineral corundum, formed from aluminum oxide. It is a red sapphire, known as the “tears of Buddha” and is a symbol of power and freedom. It is usually found in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. It is very rare to get a ruby over two carats.
Gem stones are divided into three categories, “precious stones”, such as, diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, “semi precious stones”,which include aquamarine, jade, opal, topaz and so on, and lastly “organic stones”, like amber, coral and pearl. Benitoite one of the rarest gemstones made of mineral. Benitoite, which is usually blue in color, was earlier mistaken to be a sapphire. It is only found in the mines of San Benito County, California.
However, there are some precious gems, which are rarer that the mineral Benitoite. Peridot, a variety of olivine was a mineral found in a meteorite, which is the rarest gem of our time. A Peridot is green in color and a very powerful stone. Many people give a lot of importance to the location where the gemstone is found. Many stones found in less important places, are not as powerful to stimulate, fame, happiness, and prosperity in our lives.
Treasure Hunting For Benitoite
Benitoite is a rare blue silicate mineral, found in hydro thermally altered serpentinite. Hydro thermally altered serpentinite is science speak for a type of rock that formed by cold submarine volcanoes that rose from the ocean floor. This layer of rock is full of faults and is weak and easily eroded. When mineral laden water fill the cavities the minerals dissolved in the water sometimes crystallizes and is left behind when the water leaves.
Benitoite was named after the county where it was first found, San Benito County, in 1907 and to this day San Benito County is the only place in the world that you can find this gemstone, making it among the rarest gems on the planet. Benitoite became California’s official state gemstone in 1985. The price of this gemstone is between $500 and $3,000 per carat depending the quality of the stone and most of the gems found are less than one carat in size.
This crystal is often confused with a sapphire and if the jeweler that is cutting your stone does not know the difference, he can damage the stone with the heat from their torch. The gemstone will turn orange or in the worst case break. Always use a jeweler that is familiar with this type of gemstone.
Another unique characteristic of this rare gemstone is its has a very unusual crystalline shape called ditrigonal-dipyramidal (pyramidal). It is the only known crystal to take this shape naturally. Benitoite fluoresces very strongly under short wave ultraviolet light (UV), appearing light blue in color. Treasure hunters search at night for this glowing gem with UV lights but beware, scorpions also glow at night under UV lights and some hunters have been stung by them.
Benitoite have a very high dispersion which makes them very bright. They have a refractive index of 1.757 to 1.804. This characteristic makes sparkle brighter than diamonds. They have a hardness rating of about 6.5 on the Mohs scale which is not nearly as hard as a diamonds that has a rating of 10.
The Benitoite Gem Mine has field trips open to the public. You will need to make reservation in advance and in the winter or rainy season, because of the bad roads; you will need to reconfirm your reservations 1 or 2 days prior to your trip. No services other than a porta-potty are on site and the nearest food and water is at least three hours away.
The mine opens at 8:00 AM and closes at 4:00 PM. For about $100 per day per person you are allowed to take home a five-gallon bucket of material. Night field trips are also available where you can hunt for benitoite with black lights. A mine guide there to help and explain what to look for, how to operate the screens, how to night hunt using a black light and other information.
The roads to Benitoite Gem Mine area are very rough and suitable for 2WD vehicle with a high clearance during the dry season. A 4WD is always the preferred automobile and never try to make the trip in the family sedan. Campsites are available on the surrounding BLM land except in the summer months when camping is prohibited on BLM land. If possible drive in one day and camp overnight and then take the full day treasure hunting.