Featured Stone:

 

Pezzottaite

 

Refractive Index:  1.607 - 1.619 Crystal Structure: Hexagonal 
 

 

 
Hardness:  7.5 Specific Gravity:  3.09 - 3.11
 

 

 
Chemical Composition: Cs(Be2Li)Al2Si6O18 Occurrences:   Ambatovita, Madagascar

Pezzottaite caused a mild sensation when it debuted at the Tucson gems shows in early 2003.  Found the previous November it was first thought to be a highly saturated Morganite, the traditional pink Beryl.  Regardless, it certainly represented a limited find of a new and attractive material and prices began to rise after the first few days of the show, up to several thousand dollars per carat for fine larger stones.  When the dust settled, the stone was found not to be Morganite, but a new Cesium and Lithium rich member of the Beryl group and was christened Pezzottaite after the Dr. Pezzotta of the Natural History Museum in Milan whose work on the minerals of Madagascar is quite well known.

It is no surprise then that this gem comes to us from the wealth of mineral deposits which occur on the island nation of Madagascar.  Even more distinctive is that Pezzottaite comes from essentially one small deposit about 90 miles southwest of Ansirabe in central Madagascar.  Since the initial deposit played out almost immediately no new sources have been found in Madagascar.  Quite recently some visually similar material has been found in Pakistan, though so far this is an isolated occurrence.

The material itself has a distinctive purplish pink hue, the product of significant pleochroism and an uncharacteristically high (for Beryl) refractive index.  It is nearly always significantly included, a large percentage of the material is suitable for cat's-eye stones that are quite attractive.  The find was small, as was most of the material, the largest faceted stones of decent quality are in the 5-6 ct. range though an 11 ct. stone is known.  The largest cat's-eye stones are in the 15ct. range. 

Pezzottaite had one of the more memorable debuts in quite a while, though it seems for the time being that it's rarity will severely limit its availability.