Identifying Garnets Simplified

Identifying garnets by species is complicated. Learn how to use refractive index, hue, and absorption spectrum readings to simply the separation process.

1 Minute Read

HomeLearning CenterGemologyIdentifying Garnets Simplified

Identifying Garnets Using Three Factors

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

SpeciesRI HueAbsorption
Andradite1.880 – 1.895Very slightly yellowish green through orangey yellowNone except demantoid, which shows a cut off at 440-445 nm. May have bands at 618 and 634. Demantoid may have thin bands at 685 and 690.
Grossular1.730 – 1.760All colors, including colorless, except blue.None except highly saturated orange which show bands at 407 and or 430 nm. May show general absorption on blue end.
Pyrope1.714 – 1.742Purplish red through reddish orange and colorlessUsually a cut off at 440 to 445 nm and a broad band at 564 nm. None when colorless. Some with weak bands for almandine or spessartite components.
Pyrope/almandine1.742 – 1.785Reddish orange through red purpleShows almandine spectra.
Almandine1.785 – 1.830Orangish red through purplish red.Bands at 504, 520 and 573 nm. May have weak bands at 423, 460, 610 and 680-690.
Almandine/spessartite1.810 – 1.820Reddish orange through orange red.Cut off to 435, bands at 460, 480, 504, 520, and 573 nm. Merging of

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.”

Never Stop Learning

When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

Become a Member

Get Gemology Insights

Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!