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Articles from GEMSTONES - GARNET (6 Articles)

Garnet gemstone
Garnet gemstone

Garnet: Gem of many colours - Part II

In part two of the Garnet: Gem of Many Colours series, key members of the garnet family will be discussed, together with garnet history – in the jewellery sense – and garnet lore.

Two garnet colours very familiar to the jewellery consumer are the dark red to purplish red of pyrope and the brownish red of almandine. Both garnet types have been used in jewellery for many centuries, pyrope being most prized due to its depth of rich colour. Pyrope features in many religious treasures from the Roman Catholic Church.

Almandine is the most abundant member of the garnet family. It tends to be darker in colour, with deep red gems considered more valuable than the common brownish red.

Historically, almandine was fashioned en cabochon with a hollowed back. This cut enabled light to penetrate into the gem, making its colour more appealing. Pyrope and almandine can be difficult to visually separate. Typically, almandine is darker in colour and slightly heavier.

During the Victorian Era (1837-1901) pyrope garnet was a particularly popular gemstone. Originally called puropus (meaning fiery-eyed in ancient Greek), pyrope was favoured for its deep, bright red hue. Wealthy Victorian women wore ornate tiaras set with pyrope, diamonds and other gemstones.

For more informal wear, intricate hair combs and other hair accessories, set with pyrope alone, were popular. Victorians sourced pyrope from the Kingdom of Bohemia, now the Czech Republic and it was typically fashioned as rose-cut or en cabochon.

"The most sought after grossular garnet is the rich green variety called tsavorite. Almost, but not quite emerald green, tsavorite was discovered by geologist Campbell Bridges in Tanzania in 1967"

Spessartine garnet displays colours ranging from yellow and orange to rich orangey red. It is prized for its colour vibrancy and high dispersion. When faceted as a round brilliant, Spessartine ‘pops’ with colour and brilliance.

Andradite is the garnet member that gives a different colour palette. In this branch we find black garnet, called melanite, and yellow topazolite. Both are seldom cut as gems due to their small crystals.

The standout in the andradite branch is vibrant green demantoid. With dispersion greater than diamond and a striking, vibrant rich green, demantoid is one of the most valuable garnets. Originally sourced from Russia, much of today’s demantoid comes from Namibia.

Grossular garnet is found in a range of colours including yellow, grey, colourless and green – but rarely in red. Grossular gets its name from the Latin word for gooseberry, the light green variety being similar in colour to the fruit. You might have heard of hessonite garnet; this is a grossular garnet in shades of brownish yellow to brown red.

The most sought after grossular garnet is the rich green variety called tsavorite. Almost, but not quite emerald green, tsavorite was discovered by geologist Campbell Bridges in Tanzania in 1967. He found another source in 1970, near Kenya’s Tsavo National Park. Bridges and former Tiffany & Co. president Henry B Platt named tsavorite after its Kenyan source.

On first viewing the gem, Platt observed, “Tsavorite is everything a fine gemstone should be, and then some.’”

Garnet is a gemstone of many colours. As well as the wide variety of hues available, its bright vitreous lustre, hardness and wearability make it an ideal gem choice.


More reading:
Garnet – Gem of many colours: Part I

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Susan Hartwig

Susan Hartwig FGAA combines her love for writing with a passion for gems and jewellery through her gemmology blog, For more information on gemmology courses and gemstones, visit:

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