Almandine Garnet Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


almandine garnet ring - 19th century German
Gold ring with almandine garnet and hyacinths (zircons). German work from the latter half of the 19th century. From the collection of the Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Helena Bonnevier. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Almandine is perhaps the most common garnet species. Forming series with pyrope and spessartine garnets, these gems occur in the deep brownish or purplish reds most often associated with garnets. They make affordable and durable jewelry stones.

Almandine Value

Due to their abundance and occurrence worldwide, almandines generally fetch low prices. The purplish-red almandine-pyrope blend rhodolite is an exception. See our garnet buying guide for information on value factors for almandines and other garnets.

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Garnet Value via Gem Price Guide
Top Color: oR, R, PR, rP 6/4
AlmandineAll sizes
to /ct
Fine Color Andradite: G 5/4
AndraditeAll sizes
to /ct
Chrome PyropeAll sizes
to /ct
Color Change.5 to 1 carat1 to 6 carats
Africa to /ct to /ct
US to /ct to /ct
Demantoidto 1 carat1 to 3 carats
to /ct to ,000/ct
Grossular Garnet .5 to 1 carat1 to 5 carats5 carats plus
Mint Green (Merelani) to /ct to /ctto /ct
Yellow/Orange to /ctto /ctto /ct
Yellow/Green to /ctto /ctto /ct
Other colors/ct/ct to /ct
Fine Color Hessonite: yO 4/5
Hessonite GarnetAll sizes
to /ct
Malaya Garnet.5 to 1 carat1 to 5 carats5 carats plus
to /ct to /ctto /ct
MozambiqueAll sizes
to /ct
Mali GarnetAll sizes
to /ct
Fine Color Spessartite: O 4/5
Mandarin OrangeAll sizes
to /ct
Fine Color Pyrope: R 6/5
Pyrope1 carat plus
/ct
Fine Color Rhodolite: rP, PR 6/5
Rhodolite.5 to 1 carat1 to 10 carats10 carats plus
Faceted to /ct to /ctto /ct
Cabochons to /ct to /ctto /ct
Spessartite Reds See Mandarin above.5 to 3 carats3 to 6 carats
Little 3 Mine to /ct to /ct
African to /ct to /ct
Darker reds to /ct
Star GarnetAll sizes
6 ray star to /ct
4 ray star to /ct
Fine Color Tsavorite: G 6/5
Tsavorite.5 to 1 carat1 to 2 carats2 carats plus
Faceted to /ct to /ct to ,000/ct
Uvarovite10 carats plus
Druzy to /ct
CabochonsAll Sizes
Common red to purple to /ct

See the entire Gem Price Guide.

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Almandine Information

DataValue
NameAlmandine
Is a Variety ofGarnet
Crystallography Isometric
Refractive Index 1.75-1.83
Colors Deep red, brownish red, brownish black, violet red.
Luster Vitreous to resinous.
Fracture Conchoidal
Hardness 7–7.5
Specific Gravity 3.95-4.30
Birefringence None. May show anomalous birefringence.
Cleavage None
Dispersion 0.027
Heat SensitivitySome
Luminescence None
Transparency Translucent to transparent.
Absorption Spectrum Almandines have a distinctive, diagnostic absorption spectrum: A band 200 Å wide at 5760 (strong) and also strong bands at 5260 and 5050. Lines may appear at 6170 and 4260. With a spectroscope, you’ll see this pattern of 3 (or sometimes 5) bands in all almandines as well as most garnets with a significant almandine component.
Phenomena Asterism; color change (very rare).
Birthstone January
FormulaFe3Al2Si3O12
Pleochroism None.
Optics N = 1.75-1.83; usually above 1.78. May show anomalous birefringence.
EtymologyA corruption of the name of a classic source of this garnet, Alabanda, in Asia Minor,  now Turkey.
OccurrenceAlmandine is a widespread constituent of metamorphic rocks; also in igneous rocks, in contact metamorphic zones, and as an alluvial mineral.
Inclusions See “Identifying Characteristics” below.
faceted almandine garnets
Almandine (garnet): Idaho (1.0), Africa (4.5, 9.0), Brazil (24.2), Africa, rhodolite (8.0, 3.5). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Comments

Like all garnets, iron-dominant (Fe) almandine virtually always occurs in series with other garnet species. Most frequently, with magnesium-dominant (Mg) pyrope, it forms the deep red garnets often encountered in commercial jewelry. With manganese-dominant (Mn) spessartine, it forms more brownish to orangish red garnets. Almandines can also show purplish red, wine red, and purple colors.

Known also as almandite (chiefly a British usage), almandine has been popular throughout history. The Ancient Egyptians used almandines in jewelry as early as 3,500 BCE. The Classical Roman scholar Pliny the Elder called the finest red gemstones with “brilliancy like fire” carbunculus, a grouping which included almandines and likely red spinels and rubies as well. Although no longer used professionally by gemologists, the term “carbuncle” persisted into the 19th century and came to refer to cabochon-cut red gems, most commonly almandine garnets. You might still encounter this term in descriptions of antique jewelry.

Ancient Roman almandine carving
A carved almandine garnet depicting Eros carrying off the weapons and clothing of Hercules. 1st century BCE, Italy, 1.3 x 0.6 x 1.6 cm. Gift of John Taylor Johnston, 1881. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain.

As an affordable garnet species, almandines make an excellent choice for January birthstone jewelry.

Almandine Garnet Varieties

Star Garnets

Rare star garnets come primarily from India and the U.S. state of Idaho. (The star garnet is the Idaho state gem). When properly cabbed, almandines with inclusions of asbestiform minerals (pyroxene or amphibole) may yield a 4 or 6-ray asterism effect. The Idaho material has a refractive index (N) of 1.808 and a specific gravity (SG) of 4.07. (Due to inclusions, the SG can reach up to 4.76).

Highly prized by collectors, star garnets rank among the most difficult gems to cut.

almandine star garnet - Africa
Star garnet (almandine): Africa (ca 15). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Color Change Garnets

Most color change garnets have a pyrope-spessartine composition. However, Idaho almandine-pyropes can show a strong red to purplish red color shift under incandescent and LED light.

Rhodolite

The purplish almandine-pyrope blend known as rhodolite is generally considered its own garnet variety, with its own sub-varieties.

Identifying Characteristics

An analysis of RI, hue, and SG can help distinguish almandines from other garnets.

almandine garnet crystals - Alaska
Almandine garnets from the Cretaceous, Garnet Ledge, Alaska, USA. Each crystal measures approximately 8 mm across. Photo by James St. John. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Absorption Spectrum

Almandines have a distinctive, diagnostic absorption spectrum:

  • A band 200 Å wide at 5760 (strong) and also strong bands at 5260 and 5050.
  • Lines may appear at 6170 and 4260.

With a spectroscope, you’ll see this pattern of 3 (or sometimes 5) bands in all almandines as well as most garnets with a significant almandine component.

almandine-spessartine garnet - Madagascar
A deep burgundy almandine-spessartine garnet on a white matrix. 6.4 x 6.3 x 6.1 cm, Ialamitana, Sahanivotry Commune, Antsirabe 2 District, Vakinankaratra Region, Antananarivo Province, Madagascar. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Optics

Although isometric like all garnets, almandines may show anomalous double refraction (ADR) due to strain.

Inclusions

Usually eye clean, faceted almandines may still contain a wide but unobtrusive variety of inclusions. This holds true especially for silk, which becomes visible often only under magnification.

Almandine inclusions may include the following:

  • Zircon crystals with halos due to natural radioactivity.
  • Irregular, dot-like crystals, and lumpy crystals.
  • Rutile needles, usually short fibers, crossed at 110° and 70°.
  • Dense hornblende rods (especially material from Sri Lanka).
  • Asbestiform needles of augite or hornblende that run parallel to the dodecahedral edges.
  • Crystals of minerals such as apatite, ilmenite, spinel, monazite, biotite, and quartz.
almandine garnet cabochons - India
Three almandine cabochons, locality India, on display at the Mineralogical Museum, Bonn, Germany. Photo by Ra’ike. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Synthetics

Geologists have manufactured via the hydrothermal method pure synthetic almandine crystals as well as almandine-pyrope blends. Synthetic almandines have appeared on the gem market. A gemologist should look for telltale signs of hydrothermal growth, including seed plates.

For other synthetic garnet varieties, consult the “Synthetics” section of the main garnet gem listing.

Enhancements

Although garnets typically receive no gem treatments, enhancements do occur. For example, heating an almandine-spessartine garnet in air to 920° C produces a dark gray metallic coating of hematite on its surface. Metallic coatings have been noted on garnets since 1975. Decades ago, almandine-pyropes with a metallic coating were marketed as so-called “Proteus garnets.”

For more information on this and other possible garnet treatments, consult the “Enhancements” section of our garnet buying guide.

Sources

Major gem-quality sources include the following:

  • India: Jaipur (in mica schist); also Rajasthan and Hyderabad; some stars also.
  • Madagascar: large sizes.
  • Sri Lanka: at Trincomalee, fine color and large size.
  • United States: Fort Wrangell, Alaska (fine, well-formed crystals in slate); Colorado; Connecticut; Idaho (star garnets); Maine; Michigan; New York; Pennsylvania; South Dakota.
  • Afghanistan; Austria; Brazil: Minas Gerais, Bahia; Canada: Baffin Island, British Columbia; Czech Republic; Ethiopia; Greenland; Japan; Kenya; Mozambique; Myanmar; Norway; Pakistan; Russia; Solomon Islands; Sweden; Tanzania; Uruguay; Vietnam; Zambia.
almandine garnet crystal - Norway
Almandine, 1.6 x 1.4 x 1.2 cm, Fauske, Nordland, Norway. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Very large crystals exist, but due to the material’s dark tone, gem cutters usually facet only small to medium-size gems. If cut shallow, these let light pass through. The condition of the rough also limits finished sizes. For example, the Barton Mine in New York has produced 60 cm crystals in rock. However, this material is so badly shattered that stones only up to 2 carats can be cut from the fragments.

Indian and Brazilian almandines constitute the bulk of material on the marketplace.

  • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 174 and 67.3 (stars, red-brown, Idaho); 40.6 (red-brown, Madagascar).

Care

With no cleavage and a hardness of 7-7.5, almandines make durable stones for any type of jewelry setting. (For gem design ideas, see Jeff Graham’s article for recommendations). However, exercise care when cleaning. Almandine’s microscopic inclusions may burst due to extreme heat or ultrasound, fracturing the gem. Avoid these mechanical cleaning systems and stick to a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water, instead.

See our Gemstone Care Guide for recommended cleaning methods.

almandine-pyrope - rectangular cut
16.76-ct almandine-pyrope garnet, dark red, rectangular step cut, 16 x 12.1 mm, India. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.