9 Types of Garnet You Should Know
When people think of garnets, they usually envision a single gemstone. They typically picture the deep-red version that’s associated with jewelry for the garnet birthstone month, which is January. However, the term “garnet” doesn’t refer to just one gem. Instead, there are several types of garnets, forming a group of related minerals.
Each kind of garnet has unique characteristics, even though their mineral composition is highly similar. They may have different colouring, variations in hardness, and more. By learning about the various garnets, you can appreciate each of them for their stellar beauty and standout characteristics. With that in mind, here are nine types of garnet stones you should know.
9 Types of Garnet You Should Know
1. Grossular Garnet
Grossular garnet is technically a group that features several varieties of garnet covering a wide array of colours. There are colourless varieties, as well as green, yellow, orange, red, brown, and black varieties. In some cases, a grossular garnet may be gray, and some are considered white.
There are several green garnets in the grossular group, with tsavorite being the best known garnet variety. For warmer colouring, hessonite is usually the most widely known, particularly the golden orange versions of the stone.
The Mali garnet is the most recent discovery within the group, initially found in 1994. It's exceptionally rare and has yellow colouring with hints of light green, giving it a sense of play-of-colour when properly faceted.
Another incredibly rare version is the Leuco garnet. It's a colourless version that, depending on the clarity, can resemble a diamond. Some versions are also gently tinted, giving a hint of yellow or green to the stone.
Nicknamed the “cinnamon stone,” the hessonite is one of the garnet types that tend to have an earthier hue. This garnet stones colors range from goldenrod to red, with some orange and red versions having tints of brown.
Usually, the vibrant golden orange hessonite garnet gemstones are the most popular. They often look a bit like honey, though they have an internal fire that shines orange. Additionally, hessonite with a high degree of clarity is preferred, as those with inclusions can look a bit muddy or oily.
As with most garnets, high-quality versions are typically faceted. However, those with inclusions may become cabochons instead.
3. Tsavorite Garnet
Tsavorite is a relatively new discovery. The first ones weren't unearthed until 1967 and are exceptionally rare. In many cases, that makes tsavorite an expensive stone.
The tsavorite garnet is a grossular garnet by composition; it's simply a version found in a specific place: Tsavo National Park in Kenya. It's only mined in certain parts of East Africa and is prized due to its natural green colouring.
Green tsavorite contains chromium and vanadium, which give the stone its striking hue. Most specimens are a deeper green, though some are incredibly bright and vibrant. The latter versions are the most prized, but all types are popular.
This green garnet stone usually has excellent colouring and clarity. Plus, the lustre is often exceptional. As a result, it's most commonly faceted when used in jewelry.
4. Umbalite Garnet
One of the rarer garnets, umbalite, comes in various hues. Initially discovered in the 1960s, the umbalite garnet most commonly comes in shades of red, purple, pink, and brown, though some may lean yellow or orange.
When it comes to one of the most desirable colours of umbalite, there are blue versions available. This type of blue garnet stone wasn’t discovered until 2017, and it’s exceptionally rare. Generally, it’s a teal blue garnet gemstone. It can have colour-changing characteristics, transitioning from teal blue to green, depending on the lighting.
Umbalite garnet is usually faceted since it has strong clarity and a good fire. However, if it's found with rutile crystal inclusions, it may be turned into a cabochon to capture a cat’s eye effect.
5. Spessartite Garnet
Spessartite – also called spessartine by some – is a striking garnet first discovered in Germany. It's known for its bright orange colouring, a shade that often resembles a pumpkin. While some versions lean more toward yellow or red, and some have a brownish tint, most people who want a spessartite garnet are after the orange shade.
The most popular orange spessartite garnet is occasionally referred to as Mandarin garnet, which is technically a tradename. Usually, those stones have the most vibrant orange colouring, bright enough that some refer to the hue as electric orange.
Spessartite garnets with high degrees of clarity are usually faceted. However, those that have fibrous inclusions may become cabochons, as the inclusions can create a cat’s eye effect.
Another rare garnet, rhodolite, stands out due to its unique hue. While the colours of garnet usually fall in the red or green family, rhodolite is a pink garnet. It leans pink, purple, or violet, with many versions being a shade close to raspberry.
Along with intriguing colouring and solid clarity, rhodolite is a tough garnet. That makes it suitable for everyday wear, which is excellent if you’re looking for jewelry stones. Its high dispersion creates a breathtaking fire, too, which is why most rhodolite is faceted if it’s gem-quality.
In some cases, rhodolite may contain rutile crystals. When that happens, the piece can have a cat's eye effect. Those gems are usually turned into cabochons to highlight that unique characteristic.
The almandine garnet is the most common stone on this list, so it's highly accessible. In most cases, it contains less iron and more magnesium, resulting in a deep, rich red colouring. However, the garnet almandine can also be black sometimes, resulting in an incredibly striking gemstone. It may also exhibit hints of purple or brown.
While almandine is faceted when the stone offers sufficient clarity, it's also turned into cabochons frequently. The almandine gem is referred to as a carbuncle when it's shaped in that fashion.
In most cases, almandine is an inexpensive garnet, which makes it perfect for the budget-conscious. However, gem quality almandine garnet, versions with high degrees of clarity, can be costly, so keep that in mind.
Out of all the types of garnet gemstones, pyrope is the only one that’s practically always red in natural specimens. The red can range from incredibly vibrant to deep dark red – depending on its precise composition – and often resembles a ruby, which makes it highly desirable.
There are rare cases where a piece of pyrope ends up colourless. When this occurs, it's an incredibly valuable version of the stone, primarily because a specimen of that nature isn't found often.
Pyrope also typically has exceptional clarity. It rarely has flaws or inclusions, giving it high transparency. As a result, pyrope is frequently faceted, though there are also cabochons around.
9. Demantoid Garnet
The demantoid garnet is the most expensive garnet due to its rarity. Typically, demantoid garnet stone color is a lighter green, often having hints of yellow or brown. However, the pure green versions are the most highly coveted, making them the most valuable overall.
Generally, the shade of green is a tad less vibrant than what you find with peridot. Some may describe it as minty. Others may consider it closer to spring green. When there’s more yellow, it can be closer to a delicate version of lime, while it may look a bit sage-toned if there are hints of brown.
In some cases, fibrous inclusions form in a "horsetail" configuration. While inclusions usually don't boost a stone's value, this horsetail actually increases the price of demantoid garnet.