Did you know that there are a ton of different types of garnet in the world?
In this Learning Guide, I'll teach you about the most popular types of garnet and answer questions like:
- What are the different green garnets?
- Does colorless garnet exist?
- What’s the difference between gem species and gem varieties?
Understanding the Garnet Group
Most people think of garnet as the January birthstone, with its orange red or purplish red hues. However, there's a lot more to garnet than meets the eye. Garnets are one of the more unique colored gemstones because they are not a gem variety like emeralds or sapphires.
Gem Groups vs Gem Species vs Varieties of Gemstones
A gem species is an interchangeable term alongside gem group or gem family. Gem species are mineral species. A gem species must follow a crystal structure and chemical composition. A gem species may have one gem variety or it may have multiple blends.
For example, the garnet group consists of 5 gem garnet species:
- Almandine garnets
- Grossular garnet
- Spessartine garnet
- Andradite garnet
There are additional gem garnets with different hues within each species called garnet varieties. For example, almandine garnet is a red garnet species that most people see in jewelry retailers. Rhodolite garnets are an almandine and pyrope garnet blend, making them different varieties of garnet than your typical almandine garnet or pyrope garnet.
Different Types of Garnet Species
Pyrope garnet is sometimes called Bohemian garnet, named after an old source which is now part of the Czech Republic. However, the word "pyrope" originates from the Greek word for "fiery-eyed".
It's no wonder, the hues of pyrope garnet are fiery, from intense reddish orange to purplish red. Best quality pyrope is a bright blood red color.
Pyrope and almandine garnet gemstones may look alike, but they have their differences. Almandine garnets are more popular, as it's much harder to find large pyrope garnets.
Both the Greeks and Romans adored pyrope garnet and many adored it during the Victorian jewelry period. Though it was popular this time, pyrope garnets are harder to find nowadays.
Pyrope garnets can be found in:
- United States
- South Africa
Almandine garnet is the most common gem species of the garnet group. These red stones are very common in both fine jewelry and within the earth. The hues of this red garnet can range from orangish red to reddish purple.
We've known about the use of almandine garnet in jewelry since 3000 BC. Ancient Asian, Egyptians and Romans all valued the stone and fastened them into cabochons and garnet beads. Almandine garnet was named after the ancient Asian town of Alabanda.
Notable places of almandine garnet are:
- Sri Lanka
- United States
Grossular garnet gemstones come in a rainbow of different colors, including the colorless variety (which you'll learn about later). Blue is the only color grossular garnet doesn't come in.
Funny enough, red grossular garnets are more rare.
A lot of people haven't heard about certain types of garnets from the grossular blends such as topazolite, rosolite, or californite. However, many are familiar with the Merelani Mint Garnets.
Grossular garnet varieties are found in:
- United States
- Sri Lanka
This neon green garnet is extremely rare to be found in faceted form. Often times these garnet crystals are very small, presenting vivid green druzy crystals on a matrix.
Spessartine garnet can also be called spessartite garnets. A spessartite garnet garnet gets its name from a place called Spessart in Germany. It used to be a prominent source for these stunning orange colored garnets.
The vivid orange gems with medium tones are most ideal, but a spessartite garnet can be light orange, dark yellowish orange, or a reddish orange. Pure orange spessartite garnets are often sold under the trade name of Mandarin garnet.
Typically, spessartine garnets are value more and cost more than red garnet, luke pyrope or almandine. Spessartite garnets can be found in:
- Sri Lanka
Read also: Real Garnet vs Fake
Different Kinds of Gem Garnet Varieties
Hessonite garnet is most recognizable as the orange variety of garnet. It is a type of grossular garnet. Hessonite garnets colors range from brownish orange red tones and sometimes orangey yellow browns. These types of garnets are also nicknamed the cinnamon stone because of their warm hues like the spice.
Places you can find hessonite garnet include:
- Sri Lanka
- United States
Demantoid garnet is a green garnet species blend with andradite garnet. This green stone was very popular during the Renaissance era. It was discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains and immediately marketed by Tiffany and Co.
The name demantoid means "diamond-like" in Dutch. That's because the dispersion and fire of a demantoid garnet is higher than a diamond. Though demantoids can range between green and yellow green hues, the rainbow light is especially noticeable and stunning in light green demantoid garnet.
Most garnets are considered to have eye-clean clarity. Demantoid garnets are an exception. But unlike typical gem inclusions, they have horsetail inclusions. They are gold, wisy, "horsehair-like inclusions at a radial point within the stone.
Demantoid garnets were very popular in the Victorian era of fine jewelry, but are harder to find nowadays. The original source in Russia has since been depleted and now only a few are found each year.
However, the jewelry trade remains hopeful this variety of garnet will grow more popular due to recent sources in Namibia. The only other place beside Namibia and Russia that demantoid garnets are found is in the country of Zaire.
Also known as malaia garnet, this pinky orange colored garnet is one of the more recently discovered garnet gemstones. It was discovered in 1960 alongside rough rhodolite garnet. Malaya garnet is a blend of the pyrope and spessartine garnet species.
Consumers weren't exactly receptive to this new stone initially, so it was translated from the Swahili phrase "out of the family", Eventually people bought it, with popularity surging in the 1980s. Today, malaya garnet is available in few places and is considered one of the more expensive garnet gems.
Malaya garnet is found in Kenya and Tanzania.
Mali garnet is an olive green variety of garnet that is blend of grossular and andradite garnet. Mali is it's only known location. Though olive green is desirable, mali garnets can be yellowish green, green with brownish tint, or even close to a tsavorite garnet green.
Rainbow garnet is a rare garnet variety of andradite garnet. This nifty gemstone carries a similar appearance to labradorite gemstones. The rainbow garnet appearance is causes by the different layers of garnet in the crystal structure.
Gemologists describe rainbow garnet's appearance as irridescent garnets. Only andradite garnet or andradite garnet/grossular garnet blends (grandite) can produce iridescence. Furthermore, they have only been found in a few places including:
Many gem lovers are familiar with tsavorite garnet as an alternative to emerald. Tsavorite garnet was introduced to the jewelry market by Tiffany and Co. Tsavorite garnet is a variety of grossular garnet.
The color of this green variety of grossular garnet always is an intense green, Hues range from bright green to greenish yellow hues. You can also have light green or dark green tsavorite garnet. The darker green stones are more comparable to the bright green shades of emerald.
Tsavorite garnets are more rare and pricier of the green garnets because they come from a limited amount of sources: Kenya and Tanzania. These green grossular garnets are rarely seen over 3 carats.
Colorless garnet can go under the name Leuco garnet, but few know either name. With most people only thinking garnet comes in reds, a colorless variety of garnet wouldn't cross their mined.
Leuco garnets aren't in demand, mainly because the customer base prefers the vivid colors of garnets at a great price. But, they are still garnets, a variety of grossular garnet to be exact.
Colorless garnets can be found in
Rhodolite garnets are my personal favorite types of garnet. They have a medium purplish red tone that is just such a rich color. Rhodolite garnets are among the most popular garnets chosen by customers.
Though most rhodolite garnets are a dark red purple color, they can also be light purplish red too. There is a large supply of rhodolite garnets in the industry, despite being found in less places than other types of garnets. The dark red ones tend be more desirable.
Rhodolite garnets are often found in:
- Sri Lanka
As you can see, the garnet gem species transcends far beyond the standard reddish orange January birthstone we've all come to know. Though some colors of garnet are more rare, garnets still remain a pretty affordable way to obtain a beautiful colored stones.
Treatments aren't common in garnets, which makes them all the more alluring as the color is completely natural.
Garnets can be confusing, with the different blends and varieties. But once broken down and separated, you can see each garnet variety brings something special to the group.
I hope you've had a good time learning about all the different types of garnets in fine jewelry. Which one is your favorite?