Hessonite Garnet Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


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.

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 Value

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

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.

Start an IGS Membership today for full access to our price guide (updated monthly).

Hessonite Information

DataValue
NameHessonite
Is a Variety ofGrossular
Crystallography Isometric.
Refractive Index 1.730-1.757
Colors Orange, yellow-orange to reddish orange, sometimes a pinkish coloration.
Luster Vitreous to resinous.
Polish Luster May be vitreous.
Fracture Conchoidal
Hardness 6.5 - 7
Specific Gravity 3.4-3.71; usually near 3.65
Birefringence None.
Cleavage None
Dispersion 0.027
Enhancements Fracture filling (rare).
Transparency Transparent to translucent.
Absorption Spectrum Light toned hessonites may show no spectrum. More saturated orange gems may have bands at 4070 and 4030.
Birthstone January
FormulaCa3Al2Si3O12, presence of Mn2+ in distorted cubic coordination and Fe3+ creates orange color.
Pleochroism None.
Optics N = 1.730-1.757. May show anomalous birefringence.
EtymologyFrom the Greek hesson for “inferior,” because hessonite’s hardness is lower than that of other garnet varieties.
Inclusions Crystal inclusions (apatite, calcite, diopside, spinel, zircon). May show a roiled, “heat wave” effect. See “Identifying Characteristics” below.
Faceted Hessonite - Orissa, India
Hessonite (Grossular Garnet): Orissa State, India. (3.61, 3.81, 5.65). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Comments

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 almandinepyrope 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.