hessonite garnet - cushion cut, Tanzaniahessonite 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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HomeGemstonesHessonite 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.

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

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

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

What is Hessonite?

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. Unfortunately, that didn't amount to much. Even this gem's name (including an archaic variation, essonite) reflected its inferior reputation in the gem world. Its name comes from the word hesson, which literally means "inferior" in Ancient Greek. Hessonites can have a lower hardness than other types of garnets as well as other more well-known jewelry stones, like quartz and topaz.

What Color is Hessonite?

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).

Oval Hessonite - Madagascar
Oval hessonite garnet, 2.66 cts, Madagascar. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

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

Does Hessonite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

In past decades, hessonites and other earth-tone gemstones haven't enjoyed the popularity of their brighter colored counterparts. 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. Photo by DonGuennie. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

Since hessonites can have a hardness below 7, they are susceptible to scratches from everyday hazards, like common household dust. In jewelry pieces, these gems should have protective settings. Otherwise, hessonites make beautiful and relatively inexpensive gemstones.

hessonite and diamond ring
14k gold ring with a 5-ct hessonite center stone and diamond side stones. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Prince Gems.

Are Hessonites Suitable for Navaratna Jewelry?

Navaratna ring
Navaratna ring. Photo by Rsbj66. Public domain.

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

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.

What is the "Whisky in Water" Effect?

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 this set of quizzes over gem testing procedures).

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.

matched pair of hessonites
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.

Are There Synthetic Hessonites?

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 section on synthetics in 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.

Hessonite 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.

Where are Hessonites Found?

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 crystals, 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).

How to Care for Hessonites

Store hessonites 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 hessonites - 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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