Garnet

The gemstone “garnet” could be called its own gemstone group, because garnets can have many different chemical compositions, which often have little to do with each other. Today, mainly the green “tsavorite” and the bright orange “Mandarin garnet” are interesting for investment and jewelry purposes.

For centuries the most popular garnet in Europe was the red variety, either as pyrope in Bohemian jewelry or as almandine from more southern regions. Pyrope and almandine are two varieties of garnet which differ in their chemical properties, in the size of their crystals and in their color: Pyrope reaches a maximum of 4mm in its raw crystal size (larger stones are very rare), while almandine grows up to fist size. Garnet, like tanzanite, is around 6.5 – 7 on the Mohs scale and it has a high refraction, which can vary depending on the variety. Garnet jewelry was high in demand in Europe during the 19th century. In former Bohemia (today's Czech Republic) there were large deposits of relatively small, strongly sparkling, red garnets. Goldsmiths processed these garnets into jewelry in the 19th century and offered it for sale to the aristocracy and wealthy bourgeoisie on vacation in Karlovy Vary and Marienbad. Within a few years it became fashionable to wear garnet jewelry. Garnet started its triumphal procession to London, Paris and Vienna. It was made into elegant jewelry as well as traditional costume jewelry. The demand was so great that it could no longer be satisfied with the Czech deposits. So garnet was first imported from the Nockberge in Carinthia and later even from Africa and India to satisfy the buyers. The fact that the imported goods were not the pyrope found in Bohemia, but almandine, did not bother anyone. This went so far that even the "Bohemian garnets" in the Order of the Golden Fleece are made of almandine and not Bohemian pyrope, as we know today through gemmological research. After the First World War there was a great economic downturn in Bohemia, due to which the garnet jewelry production decreased. With the rise of the communists after the Second World War, it declined to almost zero. Garnet jewelry production then shifted to Germany, Italy and England. However, "Bohemian garnet" is still mined in small quantities in the Czech Republic today - by the same company that was active during the communist period. Pyrope and almandine, however, can be purchased quite cheaply today and are less interesting to investors thanks to sufficient mining. From an investment point of view, two other representatives of the garnet group have established themselves above all: tsavorite and mandarin garnet. Tsavorite (also known by its gemmological name "tsavolite") was discovered in the same year as tanzanite, namely in 1967. It is a garnet intensely colored green by chrome vanadium, named after the Tsavoria National Park in Kenya, where it was also found for the first time. Its green color is warm, dark green and pleasing, though it usually occurs in small crystal sizes. Cut, pure stones over 3 ct. are very rare. Around 2004, a deposit was discovered in Tanzania that also yielded larger stones up to 30 ct. weight. In the meantime, this deposit has dried up again. Tsavorite is definitely more expensive than tanzanite of the same size, but cheaper than Paraiba tourmaline. Since 2004, the price for high quality tsavorites has increased tenfold. There are no common treatment methods for tsavorite. We assume that the rapid price development will continue in the future. “Mandarin garnet" is spessartine and has a beautiful intense orange color, reminiscent of tangerines, hence its name. It also occurs in larger crystals, though cut stones over 10 ct. are very rare. Prices are lower than for tsavorite, but they are currently increasing. There are sites in Nigeria, Mozambique, Tanzania, Namibia, Angola and in the US. There are no common treatments for mandarin garnet. Another beautiful representative of the garnet group is the "hessonite". The best specimens have a warm, reddish-orange color, similar to mandarin garnet, only more subdued. Mineralogically, it does not belong to the spessartine group, but it is a grossular. In former times its most famous locality was in India, but almost no mining takes place there anymore. Today the stones come mainly from Sri Lanka and East Africa. There is also no common form of treatment for this garnet. Hessonite belongs to the inexpensive representatives of the garnet group. Since garnet is generally soft, we advise against processing stones meant for investment into rings. However, processing of such stones into pendants or earrings by an experienced goldsmith preserves their qualities.

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The photos presented here by The Natural Gem show each gemstone as it is. The photos are not post-processed, color changed and the gemstones are not optically optimized in their purity.

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