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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk

Uvarovite Garnet - Rarest of all garnets

Uvarovite Drusy
Uvarovite Drusy

The garnet family is one of the largest in the gemstone world. All of the different types of garnet share a common crystal structure, but varieties are distinguished according to slight differences in chemical composition.

Six common varieties of garnet are recognized according to their chemical composition. They are pyrope, almandine, spessartite, grossularite, uvarovite and andradite. There are also some mixed members, such as rhodolite garnet, which is a mixture of pyrope and almandite by composition.

A number of these varieties are fairly rare, particularly tsavorite (chrome green grossularite garnet) and demantoid (a type of andradite garnet with outstanding dispersion).
Although these are quite rare, many gem dealers are likely to have some of them in stock. An even rarer variety is uvarovite, which can be hard to find anywhere.

Uvarovite is composed of calcium chromium silicate, and is thus distinguished from both grossularite (calcium aluminum silicate) and andradite (calcium iron silicate). It was first discovered in 1832 by Germain Henri Hess (1802-1850), a Swiss-born Russian chemist, doctor and mineralogist. Hess named it after Count Sergei Semenovitch Uvarov (1765-1855), a Russian statesman, amateur mineral collector and President of the Russian Academy of Sciences from 1818 to 1855. Hess later had a mineral named after him as well - silver telluride was named hessite in his honor as a result of his important analytical work on it.

Uvarovite Rough
Uvarovite Rough

Uvarovite is the only consistently green (idiochromatic) garnet species, with a striking emerald-green color. Specimens of uvarovite are much sought after by collectors for their outstanding brilliance and color. However, it is rarely found in gemstone quality. It is usually found associated with chromium ores in Spain, Russia, and Canada. It also occurs in Finland, Norway and South Africa.

While uvarovite crystals can be found in chromite and serpentine deposits, they are typically opaque. Occasionally, a small portion of a crystal may be transparent enough to create a small gemstone. The main source of gem-quality uvarovite garnet is the Ural Mountains of Russia, where lovely uvarovite drusy is produced. Drusy refers to tiny crystals deposited on a host rock surface. Uvarovite drusy, like other drusy materials, is more delicate than faceted or cabochon gemstones. Care should be taken when setting and wearing this material to avoid damaging the tiny crystals attached to the matrix.

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