|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 a refractive index even higher 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). But the inexpensive everyday garnets -- almandine and pyrope -- tend to a dark red with a distinct brownish tone. Spessartite could not be more different. Its striking orange and orange-red color combined with tremendous brilliance make spessartite very special.
The Namibian spessartite is famous for its tangerine orange or "mandarin" color. The Namibian material tends to be included with many small crystals and needles. We are now seeing less and less Namibian material in 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 cabs as large as 50 carats. High quality clean red-orange spessartite can be found in weights up to 10 carats, but the mandarin orange tends to be found in smaller sizes.
- First Published: January-30-2008
- Last Updated: March-01-2011
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