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What is Hessonite Garnet?

Hessonite Garnet Rough
Hessonite Garnet Rough

Hessonite belongs to the grossularite garnet group, which also includes the rare tsavorite garnet. While most grossularite garnet is green, hessonite typically has a orange-brown color which has earned it the nickname cinnamon stone.

The grossularite garnets are calcium aluminum silicates, with a density of 3.57 to 3.73 and a refractive index of 1.734 to 1.759. In addition to hessonite and tsavorite, the group includes the colorless leuco garnet and the dense opaque green hydrogrossular garnet.

Hessonite garnet ranges in color from honey-yellow to orange-brown and brown-red. One of the distinguishing characteristics of hessonite is a "treacly" quality - when viewed under magnification one can see undulating, contorted areas of lesser transparency. These subtle inclusions are a useful key in distinguishing hessonite from other gemstones of similar color, such as citrine, topaz and orange zircon.

Nine Planetary Gemstones
Nine Planetary Gemstones

One of the reasons that hessonite garnet is historically important is that it has a special place in the Vedic astrological tradition. Hessonite is one of the nine planetary gemstones along with ruby, diamond, pearl, red coral, blue sapphire, cat's eye, yellow sapphire and emerald. Hessonite, known in Sanskrit as gomeda(meaning cow fat), is the stone associated with Rahu, the moon's ascending node. When badly positioned in one's astrological chart, Rahu is characterized by insatiable worldly desires and sensual gratification. Vedic astrologists believe that wearing a good quality hessonite of at least two carats can bring success, wealth and recognition in society. It is also believed to promote longevity and good fortune.

The best known hessonite deposits are in Sri Lanka but hessonite is also mined in Brazil, India, Canada, Madagascar, Tanzania and the United States. Hessonite can often be difficult to find on the market as it is often overshadowed by the more popular spessartite garnet. However, hessonite is usually less expensive than high quality spessartite.

  • First Published: July-09-2008
  • Last Updated: August-30-2017
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    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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