Spessartite Garnet Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Oval brilliant-cut spessartite, 3.64 cts, 10.1 x 8 mm, Mozambique. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Spessartite Garnet

Usually orange to reddish brown, gem-quality spessartite or spessartine garnets are somewhat rare. However, as blends with other garnet species, they include popular mandarin and malaya garnets as well as color change gems. Spessartites make very durable jewelry stones.

Spessartite Garnet Value

Before the discovery of mandarin garnets in the 1990s, bright, orangish reds were the most valuable spessartite colors. These came most famously from Ramona, California and Amelia County, Virginia in the United States. These spessartites remain very rare and valuable.

faceted spessartite - Ramona, California

Spessartite, 2.86 cts, Ramona, California. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

“Aurora red,” a highly saturated reddish orange hue with medium to medium-dark tone, is also a prized color for spessartites.

spessartite and diamond ring

White gold ring with an oval-cut spessartite garnet in a claw setting, between trios of single-cut diamonds. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Cheffins.

However, mandarins, also rare, are very much in demand and can exceed other spessartites in price. Mandarins have purer orange hues.

mandarin spessartite garnet - Nigeria

Oval-cut spessartite (mandarin) garnet, 2.68 cts, 8.5 x 7.3 x 5.0 mm, Nigeria. © ARK Rare Gems. Used with permission.

Most spessartites, especially orange ones, have eye-visible inclusions.

For more information on spessartite quality factors, 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

Almandine

Top Color: oR, R, PR, rP 6/4
Almandine All sizes
to /ct

Almandine/Pyrope Blend ("Mozambique")

Red-Brown Colors
"Mozambique" All sizes
to /ct

Rhodolite (Almandine/Pyrope Blend)

Fine Color: rP, PR 6/5
Rhodolite .5 to 1 carat 1 to 10 carats 10 carats plus
Faceted to /ct to /ct to /ct
Cabochons to /ct to /ct to /ct

Andradite

Fine Color: G 5/4
Andradite All sizes
to /ct

Demantoid

Demantoid to 1 carat 1 to 3 carats
to /ct to ,000/ct

Grossular

Grossular .5 to 1 carat 1 to 5 carats 5 carats plus
Mint Green (Merelani) to /ct to /ct to /ct
Yellow/Orange to /ct to /ct to /ct
Yellow/Green to /ct to /ct to /ct
Other colors /ct /ct to /ct

Hessonite

Fine Color: yO 4/5
Hessonite Garnet All sizes
to /ct

Tsavorite

Fine Color: G 6/5
Tsavorite .5 to 1 carat 1 to 2 carats 2 carats plus
Faceted to /ct to /ct to ,000/ct

Mali Garnets (Andradite/Grossular Blend)

Mali Garnet All sizes
to /ct

Malaya (Malaia) Garnets

Malaya Garnet .5 to 1 carat 1 to 5 carats 5 carats plus
to /ct to /ct to /ct

Pyrope

Fine Color: R 6/5
Pyrope 1 carat plus
/ct

Chrome Pyrope

Chrome Pyrope All sizes
to /ct

Spessartite

Spessartite Reds .5 to 3 carats 3 to 6 carats
Little 3 Mine to /ct to /ct
African to /ct to /ct
Darker reds to /ct

Mandarin

Fine Color: O 4/5
Mandarin Orange All sizes
to /ct

Uvarovite

Uvarovite 10 carats plus
Druzy to /ct

Star Garnet

Star Garnet All sizes
6 ray star to /ct
4 ray star to /ct

Color Change

Color Change .5 to 1 carat 1 to 6 carats
Africa to /ct to /ct
US to /ct to /ct

Cabochons

Cabochons All Sizes
Common red to purple to /ct

Spessartite Garnet Information

Data Value
Name Spessartite Garnet
Is a Variety of Garnet
Varieties Mandarin Garnet
Alternate Common Names Spessartine
Crystallography Isometric.
Refractive Index 1.79-1.83
Colors Orangish red, light orange, orange, reddish, red-brown, brown
Luster Vitreous.
Hardness 7-7.5
Wearability Good
Fracture Conchoidal
Specific Gravity 3.80-4.25. Gems usually 4.12-4.20.
Birefringence None.
Cleavage None
Dispersion 0.027
Heat Sensitivity Some
Luminescence None.
Luminescence Present No
Transparency Transparent to opaque.
Absorption Spectrum The Mn spectrum is evident: lines at 4950, 4850, 4620 (all weak) and strong lines at 4320, 4240 (weaker), and 4120 (intense). Almandine may be present, contributing lines at 4320 and 4120.
Phenomena Color change (rare).
Birthstone January (garnet).
Formula Mn3Al2Si3O12
Pleochroism None.
Optics = 1.79-1.83. 1.803-1.805 (Brazil); 1.795 (Amelia, Virginia).
Etymology Named after its type locality, the Spessart Mountains in Bavaria, Germany.
Occurrence In granite pegmatites; also gneiss, quartzite and rhyolite, and sometimes as a component in skarns.
Inclusions Wavy feathers, due to liquid drops that have a shredded look, especially in gems from Sri Lanka and Brazil.
Faceted spessartites - various sources

Spessartites: Brazil (4.05), Madagascar (15.40) // Amelia, Virginia (4.65), locality unknown (6.41). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Comments

Spessartite usually occurs in a solid-state series or blend with other garnet species, such as almandine and pyrope. Gems closer to a pure spessartite content have a light orange color. Those with a reddish to red-brown hue have a higher almandine content as well as a higher refractive index.

cushion-cut spessartite - Brazil

This cushion-cut spessartite has a composition that includes a component of almandine, another garnet species. Therefore, it has a redder color than purer spessartites. 16.84 cts, Brazil. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Mandarin garnets have the highest percentage composition of spessartite (85-95% mol) and have vivid orange colors. Malaya garnets can have compositions of variable but high percentages of spessartite (2-94% mol), pyrope (0-83% mol), and almandine (2-78% mol). Their colors range from pink, pinkish orange, yellowish orange, orange, to red.

Large spessartite stones are very rare and usually quite dark.

Spessartite or Spessartine?

Both “spessartite” and “spessartine” are used in gemology to describe the same species of garnet. Originally, “spessartite” was the favored usage in the United Kingdom, while “spessartine” was more popular in the United States. Either term is acceptable when referring to these garnets.

Be aware, however, that the term “spessartite” is used to refer to a type of lamprophyre igneous rock also named after the Spessart Mountains of Germany. Context and appearance should suffice to distinguish them.

“Kashmirine”

A rare and spectacular variety of spessartite discovered in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan has been marketed as “Kashmirine.” Its color ranges from slightly yellowish orange to brownish orange or red-orange.

spessartite Kashmirine - Pakistan

This 1.13-ct oval “Kashmirine” displays the incredible richness and saturation of the material, which in melee sizes has the brilliance of sapphire or chrysoberyl. The raw material tends to be heavily fractured, and clean gems over 1 carat are rarely encountered in the trade. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Color Change Garnets

Spessartite is part of the composition of many color change garnets. Most such gems are pyrope-spessartite blends.

Unusual color change garnets with large amounts of vanadium (V) and chromium (Cr) have been reported from East African sources. These are primarily spessartite with unusually large components of grossular. Some of the color changes observed include the following:

  • Greenish yellow-brown (transmitted fluorescent light) to purplish red (reflected fluorescent); reddish orange to red (incandescent light). Spessartite/grossular/almandine, N = 1.773, SG = 3.98.
  • Light bluish green (transmitted fluorescent) to purple (reflected); light red to purplish red (incandescent). Spessartite/grossular/pyrope, N = 1.763, SG = 3.89.

Garnets with alexandrite-like color change have also been noted, from violet-red to blue-green. These are usually small, but a 24.87-ct stone was sold in 1979.

Synthetics

Scientists have synthesized spessartites for research purposes. In addition, synthetic garnets such as yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) can be created in almost any color, including orange and reddish orange, and could serve as spessartite simulants.

An online search will easily find “synthetic spessartite/spessartine” jewelry for sale. However, some of these sites will also explicitly equate colored cubic zirconia (CZ) or synthetic corundum with “synthetic spessartite.” These are distinct species, not garnets, and would be better described as imitations or lookalikes. (Most likely, these vendors treat the term “synthetic” as synonymous with “imitation”). 

Even rough material may be misrepresented. In at least one instance, lab-created corundum was sold as natural spessartite rough.

Enhancements

No known gem treatments or enhancements.

spessartite garnet and diamond bracelet

14k gold bracelet with approximately 55-ctw oval-cut spessartites and 3.75-ctw diamonds. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Heritage Auctions.

Sources

San Diego County, California, especially at Ramona, has produced fine, orange gems. Other notable sources in the United States are:

  • Colorado; Nevada; New Mexico; North Carolina; Pennsylvania; Amelia Court House, Virginia (fine, gemmy orange to deep brownish material).
spessartite crystal - Amelia, Virginia

Spessartine with a vivid, cinnamon-orange color, 2.1 x 2.0 x 1.5 cm, Amelia Mine, Amelia Court House, Amelia County, Virginia, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Namibia, Nigeria, and Tanzania are major sources of spessartites, including mandarins.

spessartite cabochons - Nigeria

Spessartite cabochons, pear (10.64 cts) and oval (5.98 cts), Nigeria. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

Other notable gem-quality sources include the following:

  • Arassuahy, Ceara, and Minas Gerais, Brazil: large crystals (up to several pounds), gemmy, fine color.
Faceted spessartites - Brazil

Spessartites: Brazil (ca 4, 2, 2, 16). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

  • Sri Lanka and Myanmar: in gem gravels.
  • Afghanistan; Australia; China; Germany; Italy; Kenya; Madagascar; Mexico; Mozambique; Norway; Pakistan; South Africa.
spessartite crystals - China

Spessartites, crystals up to 1.3 cm across, specimen 9.0 x 7.1 x 3.2 cm, Yunxiao Mine, near Tongbei, Fujian Province, China. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

A few Brazilian spessartites have weighed several pounds and retained great transparency and fine color. However, these are very rare.

Faceters have cut gems weighing more than 100 carats from Brazilian and Madagascar rough.

Spessartites from Amelia, Virginia have fine, orange color. These stones have yielded gems up to about 15-20 carats. However, this site has also produced crystals weighing several pounds.

  • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 109 (red, Brazil); 53.8 (red, Brazil); 40.1 (orange, Virginia).
  • American Museum of Natural History (New York): 96 (reddish, not clean, Brazil).

Care

With a hardness of 7-7.5 and no cleavage, spessartites make durable gemstones suitable for any type of jewelry, including engagement ring stones.

heart-cut spessartite and diamond ring

18k rose gold ring with heart-shaped spessartite, 4.78 cts, and 35 brilliant-cut diamonds, 0.92 ctw. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Auctionata Paddle 8 AG.

However, since these gems tend to contain inclusions, avoid mechanical cleaning systems. Instead, use warm water, mild detergent, and a soft brush.

For more recommendations, consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide.

insect brooch with spessartite, tsavorites, and diamonds

An early 20th century gold brooch designed as an insect. It has a body made from an old-cut diamond and oval spessartite, tsavorites for eyes, single-cut diamonds for wings, and a split pearl terminal bar. 5.2 cm in length. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Fellows.