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Spessartite Garnet Gemstone Information

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About Spessartite Garnet - History and Introduction

Spessartite garnet is an orange to red-brown gemstone that belongs to the large and varied garnet species of gems. The garnet group can be classified into two primary classes; pyrospites (aluminum) and ugandites (calcium) garnets. The name, "spessartine" comes from the Bavarian word, "Spessart", meaning "forest", which is a mountain range in Germany where spessartine garnet deposits were found in the 1880s. Spessartite garnet was not often seen in jewelry until deposits were mined in Namibia and Mozambique in the 1990s. Spessartite with intense yellow-orange color are often traded as 'Mandarin garnet'. Mandarin garnet is famed for its fiery color and its wonderful brilliance.

The spessartine garnet species includes a variety of garnet gemstones, including rare color-change garnet and a hybrid garnet known as Malaya garnet (or Malaia). Color-change garnet is extremely rare and is highly prized for its ability to change color when viewed using differing light sources. Color-change garnet is typically a hybrid too, a mix of spessartite and pyrope garnet. Malaya garnet is a rare garnet variety that is gets its name from the Swahili word meaning "outcast" or "prostitute". This is because when malaya garnet was first discovered, it didn't fit into the accepted garnet categories and was therefore cast aside. Malaya garnets are interesting and unique colors, such as pinkish-orange, reddish-orange and yellowish-orange with scintillating flashes of red.

Spessartite Gemstone

Identifying Spessartite Garnet

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Spessartite garnet can be identified by its orange color. Garnet in general can be distinguished from other gem types by its occurrence in metamorphic rock, its hardness (6.5 - 7.5 on the Mohs scale), color, refractive index and cubic crystal structure. However, the quickest way to identify garnet is with the use of strong neodymium magnets. Garnet is attracted to neodymium magnets because it contains high concentrations of iron and/or manganese. Spessartite garnet can be distinguished from other garnet types by its high range of magnetic susceptibility (SI).

Spessartite Garnet; Origin and Gemstone Sources

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Spessartite garnet deposits are found in Burma (Myanmar), Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Tanzania and the USA. The most desirable gemstones come from Namibia and are known as "mandarin spessartite".

Buying Spessartite Garnet and Determining Spessartite Garnet Gemstone Value

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Spessartite Garnet Color

Spessartite garnet can range in color from warm yellow to orange-red. The most desired color for spessartite garnet is a reddish-orange, which is known as "aurora red" or "mandarin spessartite". This is a pure orange without brown tints. Spessartite is ideochromatic, which means its color is owed to an important element in its composition (manganese). It is the manganese which produces its attractive, striking orange color.

Spessartite Garnet Clarity and Luster

Spessartite garnet's high refractive index and vitreous luster means that it has good brilliance. Spessartite garnet is transparent to translucent. "Eye clean" gemstones are quite rare for this variety of garnet, especially 'mandarin garnet' mined from Namibia. Namibian material often contains small fibrous inclusions of tirodite, a mineral which gives this orange garnet a stunning sleepy look.

Spessartite Garnet Cut and Shape

Translucent spessartite garnet is commonly cut en cabochon, while high-quality transparent material is cut in a variety of faceted shapes. Spessarite is often cut with extra faceting techniques to bring out its brilliance. Ovals, cushions, trillion and octagon (emerald-cut) shapes are most common, as these shapes maximize the final weight of the rough stone to be cut. Since garnet lacks pleochroism, proper orientation of the stone is not an issue for gemstone cutters.

Spessartite Garnet Treatment

Like all garnet varieties, spessartite garnet is not known to be treated or enhanced in any way. Spessarite is one of the best gemstone choices available today when it comes to those looking for high quality untreated gemstones for their gemstone jewelry.

Spessartite Garnet Gemological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: Mn3Al2(SiO4)3 Manganese aluminum silicate
Crystal Structure: Cubic; rhombic dodecahedron, icositetrahedron
Color: Orange, orangey-yellow, red-brown
Hardness: 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.790 to 1.820
Density: 4.12 to 4.18
Cleavage: Indistinct
Transparency: Transparent, translucent
Double Refraction or Birefringence: Usually none
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Mainly none

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.

Spessartite Garnet: Related or Similar Gemstones

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Malaya Garnet Gemstone
Malaya Garnet

As a member of the garnet family, spessartite is related to the other garnets, such as andradoid garnets (melanite, demantoid and topazolite), almandine garnets, pyrope garnets (rhodolite), grossularite garnets (hydrogrossular, hessonite, leuco garnet and tsavorite) and uvarovite. Spessartite garnet can sometimes be confused with hessonite garnet, but due to low levels of iron in hessonite, an N-52 magnet can be used to tell the difference between the two garnet varieties. Hessonite is not attracted to the magnet whereas spessartite is.

Spessartite can sometimes be confused with other gemstones such as andalusite, chrysoberyl, fire opal, sphene and topaz.

Spessartite Garnet Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Healing Powers

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Garnet has long been thought of as a travelers' stone. In fact, Noah's Ark is said to have had a garnet lantern to help navigate during the night. In traditional Hindu belief systems, garnet is associated with Muladhara, or the "root chakra", which is positioned at the base of the spine. The root chakra when clear is associated with healthy sexual activity and feelings of security and stability. Garnet is also thought to promote successful business, encourage compassion and aid self-confidence. Garnet is said to have the ability to heal the blood and encourage good circulation. Garnet is the traditional birthstone for January, the zodiacal stone for Aquarius and the second anniversary stone.

In particular, spessartite garnet is said to provide its wearer with analytical and creative abilities, strength of heart and the eagerness to assist others. Physically, spessartite garnet is thought to benefit the reproductive system, the kidneys, bladder and the appetite. The healing powers of spessartite garnet are said to be good for clear communication, self-confidence and for willingness to make changes and experience new things.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and does not represent the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.

Spessartite Garnet Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas

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Spessartite garnet has a good level of brilliance and an attractive vitreous luster, so when set with white or yellow precious metals, the results can be fantastic. Spessartite can be used as a statement gemstone or it can be mixed with other colored gemstones for a cascade of colors such as in Dior's "Dentelle Opale d'Orient" bracelet. Spessartite is often seen mixed with diamonds or other colorless gemstones such as white sapphire or white topaz. Emerald or other green gemstones such as deep forest-green chrome diopside provide a wonderful contrast for spessartite garnet, as seen in Bulgari jewelry designs. Like all garnet varieties, spessartite garnet is perfectly suitable for all types of jewelry; including daily-wear spessartite garnet rings. Garnet gemstones are quite hard and considered to be very durable, especially when compared to many other types of gemstones used in the jewelry available today, such as opal or turquoise for example.

Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.

Famous Spessartite Garnet Gemstones

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Spessartite garnet is one of the gemstones used in Cartier's "L'Odysee de Cartier Parcours d'un Style" collection. One panther bracelet features a 63.55 carat spessartite cabochon.

American jewelry designer, Mark Schneider, received the JCK Jeweler's Choice Award 2008 for his gent's spessartite garnet ring.

A spessartite garnet and gold necklace was sold at a 2013 Bonhams auction in Los Angeles for $62,500. The spessartite cabochons in the necklace amounted to approximately 382 carats in total and came from Tanzania.

Master lapidarist, Buzz Gray and jewelry designer, Bernadine Johnston have created a series of gemstone butterfly brooches that are exhibited in LA's Natural History Museum. The "spessartine butterfly" and "spessartine and benitoite" butterflies feature spessartite garnet gemstones from California.

Actress, Emma Stone wore a pair of spessartite garnet earrings at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards.

Spessartite Garnet Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning

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How to clean your gemstonesProper care for spessartite garnets includes protecting them from hard blows, which could damage them. To clean your spessartite garnets, simply use warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. Always remove any jewelry or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sport. Store spessartite garnets away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.

  • First Published: March-23-2007
  • Last Updated: January-07-2019
  • © 2005-2019 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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