Grossular Garnet Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Grossular garnets come in almost every color, even colorless, except blue. However, unlike other garnets, they’re rarely red or dark. Often light to medium in tone, they make brilliant, vibrant jewelry stones.
For information on quality factors for grossular and other garnets, consult our garnet buying guide.
The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.
|Is a Variety of||Garnet|
|Varieties||Hessonite, Hibschite, Hydrogrossular, Transvaal Jade, Tsavorite|
|Colors||Colorless (rare), white, gray, yellow, yellowish green, green (various shades: pale apple-green, medium apple-green, emerald green, dark green), brown, pink, orange, orange-red, reddish, black.|
|Luster||Vitreous to resinous.|
|Hardness||6.5 - 7.5|
|Specific Gravity||3.4-3.71; usually near 3.65.|
|Luminescence||See "Identifying Characteristics" below.|
|Transparency||Translucent to transparent.|
|Absorption Spectrum||See “Identifying Characteristics” below.|
|Optics||N = 1.72-1.80; usually 1.73-1.76 (with V = 1.743-1.759).|
|Etymology||After the botanical name for gooseberry, Ribes grossularia, since the pale green color of the type specimens resembled that of this fruit.|
|Occurrence||In metamorphosed, impure calcareous rocks, especially contact zones; also in schists and serpentines; worldwide occurrence, widespread.|
|Inclusions||Healed fractures (fingerprints), crystals, two phase inclusions, growth lines.|
Although you might still encounter the term “grossularite,” especially in older reference works, “grossular” is the more commonly used term for this garnet species.
The color of grossulars depends on iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn) content. If a stone has less than 2% Fe, it shows pale colors or no color. Greater amounts of Fe produce brown and green colors. Chromium (Cr) produces a rich green shade. (Tsavorites receive their prized emerald-green color principally from vanadium).
Grossulars have a granular appearance under the microscope, sometimes referred to as treacle. This swirled look comes from inclusions of diopside crystals and irregular streaks at grain boundaries. Some grossulars also have zircon crystal inclusions. Material from Tanzania may have actinolite and apatite inclusions as well.
Merelani Mint Garnet
Another popular gem grossular, this gem gets its name from its source, Merelani, Tanzania and, of course, its light minty green color.
These colorless grossulars occur in California, Canada, Mexico, Myanmar, and Tanzania. Material from Georgetown, California has N = 1.737 and an SG of 3.506.
Hydrogrossular can be a component of the massive grossulars. So-called Transvaal jade is the green, massive hydrogrossular material from South Africa. However, not all massive grossulars are hydrogrossular. Pakistan massive grossular has a refractive index N = 1.738-1.742 and a specific gravity (SG) of 3.63, with a Cr absorption spectrum. Similar material from Tanzania has N = 1.742-1.744 and an SG of 3.68.
A mixture of idocrase (vesuvianite) and grossular garnet. Usually pale to medium green in color, it comes from California, Pakistan, and South Africa.
Also known as xalostocite and landerite, this pinkish grossular in marble comes from Mexico.
Crystal specimens often show striations.
For information on distinguishing garnet species and blends, consult our article on identifying garnets.
All massive material glows orange in X-rays, as do many faceted gems. Yellow grossulars from Tanzania fluoresce orange in X-rays and also UV. (N = 1.734, SG = 3.604).
A very lively green 2.40-ct African grossular garnet with a high polish, under normal light. When placed under UV light, it shows a pink glow. © All That Glitters. Used with permission. (Slide show created to demonstrate the stone’s fluorescence).
A trace of Cr may produce a chrome spectrum in green varieties.
Massive grossular may show a weak line at 4610 or a band at 6300. Green, massive grossular from Pakistan shows a line at 6970 (weak) with weak lines in the orange, plus a strong band at 6300 and diffuse lines at 6050 and 5050.
Orange stones may have bands at 4070 and 4030.
However, you might encounter simulants, gems that look like grossulars, offered as genuine specimens of the more expensive grossular gems. These may even include lab-created garnets. For example, gemologist and gem dealer Edward Boehm recalls examining a supposed tsavorite, only to find it was a piece of yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG), a synthetic garnet, “fashioned” to appear “fresh from the mine.”
For more information on YAG and other synthetic garnets, see the “Synthetics” section of our main garnet gem listing.
Although garnets have a reputation for typically receiving no treatments, this does occur. As it so happens, grossulars have received some unusual enhancements. In one odd case, a rare colorless grossular was dyed to appear like a ruby. In a 1992 experiment, researchers found that gamma radiation can induce an unstable yellow-green color in colorless and pale hued East African grossulars. In sunlight, the color fades within hours to days. In the dark, within a week. Thus, this process has no commercial viability. However, examining yellow-green grossulars in sunlight is advisable.
For information on additional possible garnet gem treatments, consult the “Enhancements” section of our garnet buying guide.
Numerous localities produce gem-quality grossulars around the world. Some notable sources include
- United States: California (many localities); New England region (many localities); Eden Mills, Vermont (fine orange crystals, some gemmy, with green diopside); Washington.
- Asbestos, Quebec, Canada: fine orange to pinkish crystals at the Jeffrey Mine, up to 2 inches across, gemmy. Also colorless (N = 1.733). (Note: the Jeffrey Mine closed in 2003).
- Mexico: large pinkish, white, and greenish crystals, color zoned concentrically, usually opaque; crystals up to about 5 inches in diameter. (Note: According to Rock Currier, no garnets come from Lake Jaco, Chihuahua. Rather, the actual source of any gems from said location is Sierra de la Cruz, Mun. de Sierra Mojada, Coahuila, Mexico).
- Sri Lanka: grossulars (hessonite) found in the gem gravels.
- Australia: Harts Range, Northern Territory (hessonite).
- Kenya and Tanzania: fine grossular in various colors (especially tsavorite). Tanzania also produces merelani mint garnets.
- Wilui River, Russia: opaque green crystals with idocrase. These gems are also known as viluite.
- China: crystals and massive white grossular.
- Pakistan: some faceted green gems, also massive green grossular, also various shades.
- Brazil; Italy; Myanmar; Switzerland.
The Sri Lankan gem gravels have produced orange and brown grossulars (hessonite) up to several hundred carats. Although clean only in small sizes, the fine cinnamon colored hessonites from Quebec have yielded good cut gems up to about 25 carats.
While rare in clean gems over 1 carat, tsavorites in the size range of 10 to 20 carats do occur. A tsavorite crystal weighing 925 cts yielded a faceted 325-ct gem!
- Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 64.2 (orange-brown, Sri Lanka).
- Private Collection: 13.89 (yellow, oval).
- American Museum of Natural History (New York): 61.5 (cameo head of Christ, hessonite).
- National Museums of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario): 23.94, 13.40, 8.50 (brownish-orange hessonite, Asbestos, Quebec); 4.68, 2.94 (colorless, Asbestos, Quebec).
Although garnets can make beautiful jewelry stones, grossulars straddle the hardness range of 6.5 to 7.5. Thus, some specimens may resist scratching from household dust while others won’t. Before choosing a jewelry setting for your grossular, ask your vendor or a gemologist about its hardness.
Smithsonian bars and brilliant pears make good design choices for faceting light-tone grossulars. Tic tacs and checkerboards make good choices for dark-tone grossulars, like tsavorites. (Note: Read Jeff Graham’s comments on faceting grossulars and Donald Clark’s advice on cutting garnets for additional recommendations).
Grossulars have some heat sensitivity and may contain inclusions. Thus, avoid mechanical cleaning systems and exposing them to extreme heat. Instead, use warm water, detergent, and a soft brush for cleaning. Consult our jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.