In this post we are showing gemcutting in action. Steve Moriarty, the owner of Moriarty's Gem Art shows pictures of cutting the beautiful Spessartite g

emstone from Nigeria. The original rough was over 50cts and after finishing cutting it, the result was an amazing 21ct Spessartite garnet.

Issues & The End Result

Steve said there were a lot of issues in the stone that reduced the weight of the finished product. This stone is included, but has a very nice glow and amazing orange color. The finished size was 23 x 15 x 8mm. "If it were only clean" Steve says! The cutting style is a lazy oval variation with stepped crown.

Video on Spessartite Garnet

Want to learn more about this unique gemstone? In the video below, Steve Moriarty talks about what Spessartite is, where it comes from and more.

Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Steve Moriarty, and I'm from, and we also have a
retail store in Crown Point, Indiana on the Square. I'm here today to speak
to you a little bit about Spessartite garnets. A Spessartite garnet is one
of the garnet groups, which garnets are similar materials that crystallize
in the same crystal form, which is cubic. They were formed "pigmatitically"
if that's a word, but it involves volcanism and hot molten materials that
crystallize and as they crystallize they form in veins, and occasionally we
will find garnets in them.

Spessartite garnet was originally found in the middle 1800s in Spessart,
Germany. And later also found in Amelia Courthouse in the 1890's in
Virginia. My first experience with it was the little three mine in Ramona,
California. It's here near San Diego, and Ramona was one of the few
producers at the start of my business. It would produce stones, I think the
largest I ever cut was a three carat gem, but truly incredible colors; a
reddish orange that even to today are some of the finest garnets that ever
came out of the ground.

After that I began getting materials from the middle 1800s from a
gentleman named Hameed Bangush from Pakistan. This material became known as
kashmirine, because where it was found was in the Kashmir region, which is
up here in the Himalayas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This material
was often a little more reddish orange, but sometimes similar to what we
found in Ramona. Again, sizes were not very large.

After this, a new source showed up in the media, and this material was
unusual in that it had a little bit of a peachy, reddish orange color, or
peachy orange, which made it unique from other sources, and it became known
as Mandarin garnet, and this came from Namibia, right near Angola, a very
remote source, and it produced for a very short period of time. Currently
there is no production coming out of there.

But fortunately shortly after that in 1994 we find material in Nigeria.
Nigeria produced from the, it's from the Southwest corner of the country
near Benin, and what was unique about it was the sheer size of material
that came out of there; the largest Spessartites' we'd ever seen to date.
Stones 15, 20 carat, clean stones, again material that looked a lot like
little three mined, and lot like much of the material that came out of
Namibia, and a lot of it was sold a Namibian, which is something that
happens in this business quite often. You get a source that has a high
value to it, and you find another source, and everybody for a long time
tries to say it's from the more valued source to try and get a higher
dollar value out of it. But Nigeria was a beautiful color on its own,
produced for quite some time but right now there's very little if any
production coming out of there.

Shortly after that, I started going to Madagascar in 2001, and low and
behold we find more material in Madagascar. Madagascar is the big Island
off of the coast of Africa, about the size of California. Unique for its
lemurs and 75% of anything that lives on that Island only lives there, is
totally endemic to that island. The Spessartite garnet was found south of
the capital Antananarivo, in west of Antsirabe. This material was pretty
much reddish orange, not quite as valued as the Mandarin, or the Nigerian
material, but a beautiful stone on its own. A larger material, I cut one 26
carat. Now that stone was special because it was a red color that you hope
Ruby would ever look like. You get it in home lighting; it's just a pure
red stone. A little bit different than most of the material from there. But
Madagascar produced large, clean stones, and is still producing today.

About 2007 we began to see new material that was called Fanta orange, a
very orange to yellowish orange, capable of producing really brilliant
stones, but the problem with most of it was the inclusions in it. It had a
commonly a crystalline inclusion spread through the stone that affects
brilliance, so getting clean stones out of this source is very difficult.
But the color is unique in the whole gem world; rarely do you see another
gem of this color.

The value that we place on Spessartite is related, just like diamond, to
the four C's. Clarity is a big issue in garnets. It is very, very difficult
to find them clean. When you're buying them, you would like to have an eye
clean stone. Something that's crisp, and bright, is really what we would be
looking for. Don't expect flawless stones, it rarely happens in Spessartite
garnets. The color of the garnet is extremely important. A garnet that's
too dark will not produce the brilliance that the garnet is capable of.

All the garnets have a high refractive index. Spessartite garnets have an
extremely high refractive index. One of the highest in all of the color
gems, it goes as high as 1.81 refractive index. Diamonds 252, which is
higher, but for a colored stone, Spessartite is about as high as typically
you're going to get, and what this relates to is brilliance. You get a
diamond like brilliance out of a finely cut Spessartite that has high
clarity. Now carat weight also is very important. Stones up to three carat,
typically from most sources will be available. Larger than that is
difficult to get, over 10 carat is extremely rare in Spessartite garnet.

And lastly, cutting. I mean, you can't stress cutting enough. We specialize
in fine cutting, and the difference that you'll see in a fine cut stone to
an average cut stone is huge, I mean you really have to concentrate on a
fine cut, and fine cutting means cutting the pavilion, or the bottom
portion of the stone to proper angles so you don't get a window. A window
is something that you can look right through the stone. A really poorly cut
stone, you could read through the bottom of the stone. This is something we
want to avoid. You need the stone cut to proper angles, and good symmetry,
and when you do this to a fine garnet with medium color, you get extremely
high brilliance.

So, shop us at We have a wide variety of stones, not just
Spessartite, but Spessartite is a stone well worth owning. We also have a
website called, which of course we specialize
in tanzanite. Okay, thank you for your interest in colored gems, and keep
looking, we'll be doing more videos.

See More Spessartite Garnet at

By Steve Moriarty