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The popular image of garnet is a deep red gem with a brownish secondary hue. This is is a fair description of the common red garnets such as almandite. But garnets actually occur in a wide range of colors, including orange, brown, green, yellow, colorless, even blue. There are also some color change garnets which change from green or greenish blue to red or purplish red.
Green is actually as typical as red for garnets, but the green garnets, unlike the reds, tend to be rare. There are several different garnet species which occur in green.
The most common green garnet is grossularite, which is one of the six main varieties of garnet. An especially fine grossularite containing chromium and vanadium is known as tsavorite garnet, and is regarded as one of the finest of colored gems. The rare chrome green tsavorite is found in east Africa, in the border area between Tanzania and Kenya.
An even rarer green garnet is demantoid, a member of the andradite garnet family. Demantoid is the rarest and most valuable of the garnets and is one of the rarest of all colored gemstones. It is remarkable for its brilliance and fire. The most valuable demantoid comes from Russia, and is distinguished by unique horsetail-pattern inclusions of byssolite. The vivid green color is the most valuable and stones over 1 carat are very rare. Prices for Russian demantoid start at about $1,000 per carat. There is also some demantoid from Africa without horsetail inclusions that is less expensive.
Mali garnet is a hybrid of grossularite and andradite, and is a fairly recent find, discovered in 1994 in Mali in West Africa. Though generally lighter in color than demantoid, it is valued for its fire and its rarity. Mali garnet colors range from yellow to greenish yellow, and yellowish brown to brown. Lighter colors tend to show more fire or dispersion and the greenish colors are preferred over the brownish.
Color-change garnet is usually a mixture of pyrope and spessartite garnets that displays different colors under daylight and incandescent light. This phenomenon is rare and valued by collectors. There is a range of color change, but green or bluish green to red or purple tends to be the most dramatic. These rare garnets have been found in Kenya and Madagascar and prices range from about $500 to $1,000 per carat, depending on size, color and clarity.
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