The Unknown Colors of Garnet


Almost everyone is familiar with January's birthstone, Garnet. If you asked any number of people exactly what color a Garnet was they would not hesitate to say, well red, of course. This statement is true but also inaccurate at the same time. In actuality, the amazing group of gems that make up the Garnet family of Silicate minerals comes in a wide range of colors. The common varieties of "red or brownish-red" Garnet that we have become accustomed to seeing in the market due to their abundance and affordability are Almandine and Pyrope or a combination of the two. Garnet's diverse family members feature some breathtaking exotic colors and rarities. Let's take a closer look at some of Garnet's lesser-known family members.

Tsavorite Garnet is a type of Grossular Garnet, colored by trace amounts of Vanadium or Chromium, which results in a truly intensely saturated green to kelly-green color. The green color of Tsavorite is highly prized. Since the color range can rival and even beat the top color of Emeralds in a much cleaner crystal. The trace elements that give Tsavorite its beautiful color, however, tend to be a growth inhibitor for the crystals making it very difficult to find a cut gem weighing over two carats and especially more expensive. There is however an excellent also lesser-known gem that closely mimics the rare and valuable Tsavorite Garnet, which is Chrome Diopside which comes at a much more reasonable cost as a suitable alternative. 

Spessartine Garnet, sometimes mistakenly referred to as Spessartite. It has an incredible color range from pure reds, burnt oranges, to an intense soda pop orange commonly referred to as Mandarin Garnet in the trade, hence the name. With newly discovered deposits in Africa in the 1990s. This gem is now not just a collector's only gem but a widely popular and fresh take on common orange gems, like Citrine. If you need some bright warming color in your life, I'd highly recommend owning a lovely Spessartine Garnet. 

Color Change Garnet has a fairly complex science behind its amazing phenomenon but we'll just stick to the basics. Yes, Color Change Garnets do change color under different light sources like incandescent to fluorescent. Color Change Garnets show the widest range of transformation in the gem world with almost any hue possible. The most frequently seen color change is an orangey-brown to reddish-brown. However, fairly new deposits have unveiled pure purple to blue color change gems that for the longest time the color blue was not even believed to exist in the known Garnet kingdom. Highly prized and desired in the gem collecting world, Color Change Garnets have a wide range in prices based on their size, the strength of color change, and the exact colors of the color change. They are a definite unique addition to any one's collection. 

There are many more varieties of Garnet species and it's extended family to be explored such as Rhodolite, Malaya, Demantoid, Hessonite and many more. One thing that is for sure is the Garnet mineral family is a diverse and colorful one. So yes, Garnets are typically red but hopefully, now you can appreciate the many unknown colors of Garnet.

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Zachary Sutton, G.I.A. G.G.