hessonite garnet - cushion cut, Tanzania
hessonite garnet - cushion cut, Tanzania

Hessonite Garnet Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Also known as the “cinnamon stone,” hessonite is the yellow-orange to reddish orange variety of grossular garnet. Hessonites can make beautiful, inexpensive jewelry stones.

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Also known as the “cinnamon stone,” hessonite is the yellow-orange to reddish orange variety of grossular garnet. Hessonites can make beautiful, inexpensive jewelry stones.

hessonite garnet - cushion cut, Tanzania
Fancy antique square cushion-cut hessonite garnet, reddish orange, 4.20 cts. Origin probably Tanzania. © Dan Stair Custom Gemstones. Used with permission.

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Hessonite Value

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For information on quality factors for hessonite and other garnets, consult our garnet buying guide.

Faceted Hessonite - Orissa, India
Hessonite (Grossular Garnet): Orissa State, India. (3.61, 3.81, 5.65). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

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Before the discovery and popularization of emerald-green tsavorite in the late 1960s to 1970s, orangish hessonite was the most popular gem variety of the unpopular grossular garnets. Even its name (including an archaic variation, essonite) reflected its inferior reputation in the gem world. Hessonites can indeed have a lower hardness than other garnets and may require a bit more care as jewelry stones.

However, fashions change. In the 1990s, the discovery of bright orange mandarin garnets, a variety of spessartite, saw an increased interest in orange gems. While mandarin garnets are rare and expensive, hessonites offer a more readily available, relatively inexpensive option. In addition, a renewed demand for earth tone jewelry also increased interest in these gems.

Faceted hessonite - Sri Lanka
“Faceted Hessonite,” about 1-ct, Sri Lanka, by DonGuennie. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

Hessonite’s orange may range from honey yellow to a reddish-brown, hence its cinnamon moniker. In past centuries, hessonites were one of several varied gems called jacinth or hyacinth. (In modern times, these terms receive little use but most commonly refer to orange-red to red-brown zircon).

Sometimes, hessonites show a pinkish tone. In Asbestos, Quebec, miners have found pinkish orange crystals among the asbestos.

In contemporary Navaratna nine-gem jewelry settings of Hindu and other traditions, hessonite frequently represents Rahu, the ascending lunar node.

Oval Hessonite - Madagascar
“Oval Hessonite Garnet,” 2.66 cts, Madagascar. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

Identifying Characteristics

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

Usually included, sometimes heavily, some hessonites may also contain eye visible inclusions. However, unless they affect structural integrity, such inclusions don’t usually detract from hessonite’s value.

Hessonites may display a visual effect that resembles roiled or disturbed water within the stone. This roiled appearance has also been referred to as a “heat wave” or “whisky in water” effect. Although similar effects may occur in other gemstones, its appearance in a garnet may help confirm its identification as hessonite. Such gems may appear more translucent than transparent. (Note: For an example of this effect in a honey yellow hessonite, see Quiz 2 in our Gemstone Identification Quizzes).

However, please note that some relatively recent discoveries of hessonites lack this roiled effect. These include specimens from Afghanistan and Orissa, India. These gems have greater transparency than roiled specimens. So, the absence of a roiled effect in a garnet may not rule out hessonite.

hessonite pair
This beautiful matched pair of hessonites shows the turbid, roiled effect well known in these gems as well as some crystalline inclusions. 6.00-ct TW, medium dark yellow-orange, oval brilliant cut, Sri Lanka. No treatments. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Synthetics

Scientists have synthesized numerous garnet varieties, including grossulars. However, synthetic grossulars, including hessonites, aren’t likely to be found in jewelry use. For more information on other synthetic garnets, see the “Synthetics” section of our main garnet gem listing.

An online search for “synthetic hessonites” will return many admonitions against wearing such material, especially in a Navaratna setting. While hessonites aren’t rare or too expensive, and lab-created grossulars aren’t common, gems with strong symbolic associations may motivate dishonest vendors to sell simulants made of even more plentiful, cheaper materials. (See, for example, cross-shaped staurolites). Be wary of dyed glass, plastic, or synthetic quartz imitations of hessonites, especially if purchased online.

Navaratna ring with hessonite
“Navaratna Ring” by Rsbj66. Public domain.

Enhancements

Garnets typically receive no gem treatments. However, grossular garnets, including hessonites, are occasionally enhanced. For example, reports have noted hessonites with clarity enhancing fracture fillings, including polymer fillings intended to stabilize highly fractured, low-grade material for cutting.

A 1997 experiment demonstrated that heating purplish rhodolite garnets, an almandine-pyrope blend, may produce a “hessonite-type brownish color” at around 600° C. However, rhodolites have greater hardness (7-7.5) and command higher prices. Thus, you won’t likely encounter heated rhodolites offered as hessonites.

For information on additional possible garnet gem treatments, consult the “Enhancements” section of our garnet buying guide.

Sources

Canada, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania are major sources of gem-quality hessonites.

Other notable producers include

  • Afghanistan; Australia; Brazil; China (Altay Mountain Range); India; Italy; Madagascar; Myanmar; Pakistan; Russia; United States (San Diego County, California; Washington).
hessonite crystals - Italy
“Hessonite Garnet,” Italy. Photo by Lamiot, taken as part of the GLAM at the Museum of Natural History of Lille. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

Stone Sizes

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.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York has a 61.5-ct carved hessonite cameo head of Christ in its collection.

  • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 64.2 (orange-brown, Sri Lanka).
  • National Museums of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario): 23.94, 13.40, 8.50 (brownish-orange hessonite, Asbestos, Quebec).

Care

Hessonites in jewelry pieces should have protective settings. Store them separately from other harder jewelry stones to avoid contact scratches. Since all grossulars have some heat sensitivity and hessonites in particular typically have inclusions, 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.

Faceted Hessonite - Brazil and Canada
Hessonite (Grossular Garnet): Brazil (12), Quebec (5), Brazil ( ca 7, 22). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”


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