Identifying Garnets Simplified


Identifying garnets by species can be difficult due to the great variety of their chemical compositions and properties. There are even stones with mixed compositions. A rhodolite is a garnet with a composition between almandine and pyrope with a distinctive purplish red color. “Rhodolite,” 3.63 cts., fancy round brilliant cut, Tanzania. © Dan Stair Custom Gemstones. Used with permission.
Identifying garnets by species can be difficult due to the great variety of their chemical compositions and properties. There are even stones with mixed compositions. A rhodolite is a garnet with a composition between pyrope and almandine with a distinctive purplish red color. “Rhodolite,” 3.63 cts., fancy round brilliant cut, Tanzania. © Dan Stair Custom Gemstones. Used with permission.

The most complicated part of identifying garnets is distinguishing between the species. The gems in the almandine, pyrope, and spessartite series are particularly difficult separations. However, the following chart will simplify the process once you’ve done your preliminary identification and are sure you’re dealing with a garnet stone.

Identifying Garnets Using Three Factors

You can use the refractive index (RI), hue, and absorption spectrum of your garnet specimen to make your identification.

Please note, density isn’t useful for distinguishing garnet species. There …

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