|What's Special about Spessartite?
The garnet family of gemstones is large and varied, but spessartite garnet is no ordinary garnet. Spessartite is a brilliant gem that has an even higher refractive index than sapphire. In fact only zircon, sphene and diamond are higher on the refractive index scale.
Garnet has always been highly regarded for its good hardness (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale) and excellent durability (it has indistinct cleavage). Whilst inexpensive everyday garnets - almandine and pyrope - tend to be dark-red with a distinct brownish tone, spessartite differs. Its striking orange and orange-red color combined with tremendous brilliance make spessartite very special.
Namibian spessartite is famous for its tangerine orange or "mandarin" color. This material tends to be included with many small crystals and needles. We are now seeing less and less Namibian spessartite on the market. The Mozambique spessartite ranges from pure orange to orange-red and red-orange, with many very clean specimens.
Some included material with excellent color is cut in very attractive cabochons. We have bought such cabochons as large as 50 carats. High quality clean red-orange spessartite can be found in gemstones weighing up to 10 carats, but the mandarin orange variety tends to be found in smaller sizes.
- First Published: January-30-2008
- Last Updated: June-19-2014
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