Garnet Gemstone Buying Guide - Moriartys Gem Art

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  • Garnet Gemstone Buying Guide

    What should you look for when buying Garnet? 

    Good brilliance which can be negatively affected by overly dark color saturation, poor cutting and fine silk which is a common inclusion and a good identifying characteristic which makes garnets look sleepy.  Shine a penlight to the side of the gem and silk with reveal itself.  Slight silk is ok as it is common particularly in rhodolite and umbalite garnets. 

    What colors does Garnet come in?

    Garnet comes in almost every color of the rainbow. While red is the most common, pink, yellow, brown, almost black can be found, and you can find more rare garnets in orange, green and even alexandrite-like color changing garnets. Colorless also exists but is rarely seen.

    What are the different types of Garnet?

    There are many different types of Garnet. The most popular in the industry are the following:
    • Tsavorite (Green)
    • Merelani (Mint Green)
    • Pyrope (Brilliant Red)
    • Spessartite (Orange)
    • Rhodolite (Violet red)
    • Mozambique (Red)
    • Color Changing Garnet (Blue or green to Red)
    • Malaia (Brown to Pink)
    • Umbalite (Light Violet Red)
    • Mahenge (Pink to peach)
    • Demantoid (green)
    • Grape or Purple Garnet

    How can you identify a Garnet?

    Refractive index and as a cubic crystal, garnets are singly refractive like diamond and spinel with which they can be visually confused.  This characteristic can be diagnostic with use of a dicroscope as most gems are doubly refractive. 

    Is Garnet a natural gemstone? Are they heated?

    Garnets are natural with no synthetic counterparts.  Garnets are generally not treated by heat or any other means.  I talked to one dealer that stated that some Demantoid found in Colorado could be lighted with heat but have not varified this report nor have I seen this garnet from this source. 

    What is the rarest color of Garnet? Most valuable?

    The rarest Garnet is the color changing Garnet. It acts just like an Alexandrite which changes color in daylight vs incandescent light.  Colorless would be rare as I have never seen or owned one. 

    Is there such thing as black Garnet? If so, what is it?  

    Very dark red garnets appear black but when you shine an intense light through them you can see the red color.  I have not seen true black garnet. 

    What is the birthstone month of Garnet?

    January is the birth month for Garnet. While most people choose Red Garnet to use for their birthstone, more and more are choosing the other colors available.

    Is Garnet considered a precious gem?

    The term precious and semi-precious use to be value based and has become outdated and demeaning to many high value gems once categorized as semi-precious. A 5 carat tsavorite garnet could cost $50000,  pretty precious to most of us. 

    What is the meaning of Garnet? Benefits?

    There are many meanings connected to Garnet. One of the most used is keeping the wearer safe during travel. It can also help get you grounded when feeling out of control and can help get through energy blocks to improve your joy in life.

    What is the hardness of Garnet?

    There are many types of Garnet, so hardness ranges from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. For example, Garnets such as almandine, pyrope, spessartine, and tsavorite are on the harder side closer to 7.5 while demantoid is more towards 6.5. Almost all Garnet can be worn in jewelry, including rings, pendants, necklaces, earrings and bracelets

    Are there Fake Garnets?

    No, not that we know of. The closest thing to a fake would be synthetic Garnets. The closest man made imitations are YAG (Yttrium Aluminum Garnet) and GGG (Gadolinium Gallium Garnet) These are not synthetics as their properties do not closely parallel any known garnets.

    How do you clean Garnet?

    It is recommended to use warm, soapy water to clean your Garnet and Garnet jewelry. Most garnets can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner as long as the ultrasonic is cool as they tend to get hot if left running as happens in most trade shops.  Keep in mind that ultrasonics on rare occasion due to unknown stress in a gem, can cause damage.  Once cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner we expect they will be safe to use this method in the future.  It would be worthwhile to ask your supplier if it was ever cleaned with this method. Steam cleaning should be avoided with Garnet and many colored gems. 

    Where are the different types of Garnet found?

    Different types of Garnet are found all around the world. 
    • Pyrope Garnet can be found in China, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and some of the finest, those known as anthill garnet from Arizona USA.
    • Rhodolite Garnet originally found in Franklin North Carolina can be found in Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Madagascar and the most notable source Tanzania.  The Kangala deposit in Tanzania produced the largest quantity of fine and large rhodolites up until the end of the 20th century.  
    • Spessartite Garnet can be found in Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the USA.
    • Color Change Garnet, also known as Alexandrite Like Garnet can be found in East Africa, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Magagascar, United States, Norway, Tanzania and Kenya. 
    • Malaia Garnet can be found in Tanzania, And Madagascar
    • Tsavorite Garnet can be found in Kenya and Tanzania.  In my travels to Madagascar I occasionally came across tsavorites. 

    How is Garnet formed?

    Garnet is found in metamorphic rocks altered by heat and pressure.

    Is Garnet easy to cut? How do you cut it?

    Garnet is relatively easy to cut and takes a good polish. You can see how it done in many of our videos on YouTube. With garnets high refractive index when cut correctly you get a spectacularly brilliant gem

    Is Garnet a Quartz? Why?

    Garnet is a totally different gem than quartz. It crystallizes different and with its higher refractive index it potentially is more brilliant.

    Garnet vs Ruby. What is the difference?

    The only similarity is the appearance, all Gemological characteristics are different. The pyrope from Arizona have a red color that is amazing but like ruby you cannot get them in large sizes as the get overly dark. Refractive index of both gems are similar so potential brilliance is the same although garnets are typically more brilliant due to higher clarity.

    Can Garnet get wet?

    Only strong acids like sulfuric will affect garnets. Sulfuric is used in the pickle solution used by jeweler so some caution should be taken during jewelry repair.

    Can Garnet get scratched or crack?

    All gems can be scratched by anything of equal hardness or harder than. At 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 some garnets can be scratched by quartz at 7 hardness. Quartz is common in nature. Those over 7 are less likely to scratch. Other rings worn next to the garnet like diamond, sapphires and rubies, beryls and other harder gems can be a source of scratching. Cracking is not common.

    Can you scratch glass with Garnet?

    Yes garnet is significantly harder so it will scratch glass.

    What causes the different colors in Garnet?

    Hessonite- Iron
    Tsavorite- vandium and chromium
    Malaya- (malaia) Manganese
    Color Change- Chromium, Vanadium
    Pyrope- Iron and or chromium (chrome pyrope)
    Rhodolite- Iron
    Spessartite- Manganese and iron
    Demantoid- Chromium
    Almandite- Iron