Jewelry Guide

Spessartite Garnet – A Comprehensive Guide

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Spessartite garnet, also known as mandarin garnet, maybe an unfamiliar name, but the gemstone is certainly easy to spot. Known for its orange to red color, spessartite garnet is affordable, beautiful and brilliant.

When set in beautiful jewelry, this gemstone can hold its own against any other gemstone out there.

Let’s take a look at what sets the spessartite garnet apart and what you should look out for when buying your own spessartite garnet jewelry.

What Is a Spessartite Garnet?

To answer that, we’ll first have to figure out what exactly a garnet is. Garnet gemstones are a group of gemstones that share common qualities. They are all of closely related minerals, but they can come in varying chemical compositions and colors. They are called garnet because of their typically reddish color – the old Latin word “granatum” means “dark red”.

loose spessartite garnet gemstone

Loose spessartite gemstone. See it here.

This doesn’t mean that all garnets are red, however. Garnets can come in various other colors such as burgundy, orange, brown, green, and black, although red and orange are the most popular and sought-after varieties.

There are six recognized species of garnets: spessartite, pyrope, almandine, grossularite, andradite, and uvarovite. They can also be separated into eleven varieties based on their color. Almandine garnets are the most popular ones because of their pure red color. Grossularite garnets are also quite popular with their lemon yellow to mint green colors.

Spessartite garnets typically have a beautiful orange color and often has iron impurities as well which can give the spessartite a more reddish tint. That’s so common, in fact, that pure orange spessartites are not that common and most stones exhibit either red, yellow, or brown tints. The most valued type of spessartite garnet is the fiery-red ones with orange tints.

Why is It Called Spessartite?

The spessartite bears its name thanks to the locations where it was first found and identified, the Spessart Mountains in Bavaria, Germany. These gemstones are most commonly found in granite pegmatites, as well as in gneiss, quartzite or rhyolite.

Spessartine is an alternative term for spessartite. Both mean the same thing, only “spessartite” is more widely used in gem trading while “spessartine” is more common in the mineral trade.

Is Spessartite Garnet Rare?

Spessartite used to be considerably rarer prior to the 1960s and was considerably more valuable. However, in the 60s, a large deposit of spessartine was found in the Umba River Valley of Tanzania and Kenya, making it readily available.

Today, it’s relatively affordable compared but can still command high prices depending on the quality of the stone.

How to Choose Spessartite Garnet Gemstone Color?

spessartite garnet gold ring

Spessartite is known for its orange to red hues. See this ring here.

Reddish spessartite garnets are the highest valued variety of spessartites even though they are naturally orange and require inclusions to get redder. The reason for that is mainly that red garnets are in demand and sought after, making them valuable overall and that principle transfers over to spessartites as well. However, purely orange spessartite garnets are quite rare and valuable.

When choosing the color, look for even coloration and vivid hues. Bright, dynamic color is what you’d want from a spessartite garnet. There are pale varieties as well, showing faint orange or red, but these don’t have the vibrancy that you’d expect from a spessartite garnet.

Having said that, when choosing color, opt for the color you prefer and that you think looks good on you.

Spessartite Garnet Gemstones and Clarity

spessartite earrings dangles

Look for eye-clean spessartite garnets like in these stunning earrings.

All garnet gemstones are generally quite clear. They are almost transparent and exhibit a gorgeous glassy luster. Pyrope and almandine garnets usually lack any eye-visible inclusions which gives them a very high clarity, but spessartite garnets exhibit visible inclusions quite often.

When purchasing your stone, look carefully to see if there are any visible inclusions. You’d be searching for an eye-clean stone, that doesn’t have easily visible flaws.

Another interesting thing is that even though spessartite garnets can often have a lot of inclusions, these inclusions are not always viewed as a bad thing.

The most common inclusions in spessartite garnets are wavy feathers because of liquid drops that have been trapped in the gemstones. Such patterns are especially common in spessartites found in Brazil or Sri Lanka.

Some similar inclusions in spessartites can cause asterism, which is a star-like effect that appears on the surface of the stone thanks to the inclusions within it. This star-like effect is actually very treasured for its rarity.

Spessartite Garnet Cut

brilliant cut spessartite garnet earrings

Spessartite garnet is typically faceted. See these earrings here.

This gemstone looks stunning when faceted, as this allows enhanced light performance and increases the brilliance of the stone. Spessartite garnet is typically cut in brilliant cuts or other popular gemstone cuts such as emerald, oval, princess, trilliant and heart.

Spessartite gemstones are usually cut like most other garnets – in traditional shapes that can fit the most common jewelry types. Because of their inclusions, spessartites need to be cut more carefully than other garnets in order to either hide their inclusions or to give them a more interesting and beautiful look. Either way, you can expect to see spessartites garnets in all traditional gemstone cuts.

Spessartite Garnet Carat Sizes

Like all other garnets, spessartites are found and available in a lot of carat weights and sizes. Some garnets, like the demantoid or the tsavorite are usually smaller but spessartites can be found in quite large sizes. On average, a spessartite garnet can be expected to be around 2 to 5 carats in weight.

Spessartite Garnet Gemstones In Jewelry

As we alluded above, spessartite garnets, like all other garnets, are suitable for all types of jewelry, looking stunning in rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, charms and pendants. Because of their earthy tones, they suit any skin tone and looks stunning on anyone.

Spessartite garnet pendant

Stylish spessartite garnet pendant. See it here.

Because of their brilliance, spessartite garnets look stunning when set into well crafted jewelry. When surrounded by diamonds, they have a gorgeous look and an attractive brilliance.

In larger or smaller sizes, in redder or orange colors, spessartites can make for a beautiful composition when combined with the right metal and design.

spessartite garnet earring studs

Orange spessartite garnet earrings. See them here.

As far as engagement rings are concerned, however, spessartites or other garnets are not really recommended. That’s because they have a hardness of about 7 on the Mohs scale which makes them moderately hard but not hard enough to last decades on an engagement ring.

For comparison, diamonds are at 10, the highest grade on the scale, while rubies and sapphires are at a respectable 9. That’s why they make for much better engagement ring gemstones, as they are durable enough to withstand daily exposure.

spessartite engagement ring

Stunning spessartite engagement ring. See it here.

Having said that, if your heart is set on a spessartite garnet engagement ring, then by all means go for it. With reasonable care, you’ll be able to keep the stone lasting for decades.

When mounting a spessartite garnet engagement ring, you can opt for rose gold or yellow gold colored metals to complement the gemstone. Silver colored metals adds a strong contrast, bringing out the color of the stone starkly.

Cleaning And Caring For Spessartite Garnet Gemstone Jewelry

Cleaning a spessartite gemstone is not much harder or more complicated than cleaning other similar gemstones.

Warm soapy water using soft and non-toxic soap is usually enough to properly clean a spessartite. Always rinse and dry off the stone well after washing it, to avoid soap spots and other residue remaining on the surface.

As far as storing your spessartite garnet is concerned, however, that should also be done with a bit of care. As a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, spessartites are significantly softer than diamonds and other gemstones so they can easily be scratched by them if stored together. Always store your spessartites separately from harder stones or at least keep them wrapped up in cloth for extra protection.

Enhanced Or Imitation Spessartite Garnet Gemstones

Unlike a lot of other gemstones, garnets aren’t typically subject to heat treatments or irradiation. Spessartite garnets are never heat treated and the color you see is its natural color. This makes spessartite an excellent choice if you’re after a gemstone that hasn’t been treated and still exhibits amazing color.

There are synthetic spessartite garnets on the market, as seen here in this beautiful pendant. It looks exactly like the real thing but is in fact a simulant.

The imitations can sometimes be made of glass or plastic. Always ask the vendor as to the origin of the stone.

Spessartite Garnet Meaning And Symbolism

As some of the oldest gemstones in human history, all garnets are rich in meaning and symbolism. Spessartites, like most other garnets, are valued for their protective energies and healing power. Used in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and in Rome, spessartite garnets were a sign of authority and status. In the Middle Ages, spessartites used to be a symbol of truth and faith.

It has been believed to be a stone for travelers, assisting them in their journeys and keeping them safe. It’s also believed to be a healing stone with benefits for the reproductive system and other parts of the body. Today, their suspected therapeutic powers are believed be able to fight off nightmares and depression, promote creativity and analytical thinking and assists with communication and change.

*Disclaimer: Jewelry Shopping Guide does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.

Where to Buy Spessartite Garnet

When searching for spessartite garnet, always buy from a trustworthy retailer with a clear track record. It’s important to check for the origin of the stone and ask about the after sales policies. You want a retailer who stands by their products with a solid returns policy in case of any issues.

Searching online will give you many options and competitive pricing, but you may also be able to find spessartite garnet at your local store so check with them too if you prefer buying in person.

If buying online, we recommend searching on the following platforms:

Etsy

Etsy has a huge assortment of vendors that offer a wide variety of spessartite jewelry. These jewelry pieces range from a few dollars to pieces that cost hundreds of dollars and come in a variety of styles.

Amazon

Amazon has a range of spessartite jewelry and loose gemstones. You can find beautiful hand-crafted items here at a variety of price points to suit all buyers.

With both Amazon and Etsy, ensure that you check each boutique’s policies and keep open and clear communication with the seller to avoid disappointments.

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