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Spotlight on: Spessartite Garnet

Spotlight on: Spessartite Garnet

Spessartite garnets are a kind of garnet that is relatively new in jewelry making. The popularity of spessartite began to grow after the discovery of it in mines in Namibia and Mozambique.

Garnets are minerals that grow as small grains on the inside of a rock host. Scientifically speaking, spessartite is a nesosilicate, manganese aluminum garnet. The name comes from a place called Spessart in Bavaria, Germany where the type of granite they grow in is local.

To jewelry designers and lovers of fine jewelry, spessartite garnets mean a bright, fiery true orange stone. The color represents those stones with the highest spessartite content. They are the ones most sought after for jewelry. Those with a lesser content will appear as being reddish-brown.

The best specimens of spessartite garnets are called Mandarin Spessartite. They are mostly found in Namibia and Mozambique. Upon its discovery, the gemstone trade paid little attention to the bright red-orange spessartite. German and American jewelers took notice of the gem beginning in the 1970s.

Because of its high refractive index, the spessartite gemstones look especially brilliant in lower lighting such as at sunrise, sunset or in candlelight. Only three other gems have a higher refractive index than spessartite. Those three stones are the sphene, zircon and the diamond. Its clarity is between transparent and translucent.. The most common cut for the stones is an en cabochon cut. This cut involves a convex, rounded surface. It is an unfaceted cut, but one that is polished.

The gemstone is not widely recognized yet. There has not been a lot of public knowledge about spessartite. At this time, it is mostly known and used by savants in the business.

There is no cut and polished spessartite in the auction houses yet. But we predict that the public will be seeing more of this pretty “orange crush” colored stone in the near future.


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