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Raspberry Rhodolite Garnet
If you are only familiar with the common red garnets like almandine, the rare rhodolite garnet may forever change your mind about red garnets. Rhodolite's color ranges from rose red to raspberry red, and purplish-red to purplish-pink. It is brighter than the common red garnets and without a trace of a brown secondary hue. It's a fine gem that makes stunning jewelry.When most people think of garnet, they think of the deep brownish-red garnets that are sold in cheap jewelry. But not all garnets are red -- some rare garnets are green, or orange -- and there are in fact some fine red garnets which are not overly dark or brownish.
By chemical composition, rhodolite is a mixture of almandine and pyrope garnets, usually with a proportion of approximately two parts pyrope to one part almandine. Like the other garnets, it has good hardness (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale), so it is suitable for all kinds of jewelry, including rings. It also has very good brilliance due to its high refractive index. And rhodolite is always untreated, making it a very good value in a market where many gems are heat treated.
The color of rhodolite is quite unique in the gems world. Really the only comparable gem is rubellite tourmaline, which can often be found in a similar raspberry color. Rubellite is even rarer than rhodolite, and usually sells for per carat prices that are 2 to 4 times higher than rhodolite, though rubellites tend to have significant inclusions. So that makes rhodolite an especially good value.
|Color variations in Rhodolite Garnets from Madagascar|
One of the intriguing facts about rhodolite is that it was one of a small number of gems that were first discovered in the USA. The first deposit was found in North Carolina in the late 1890's by the American mineralogist W.E. Hidden (1853-1919). Hidden also discovered a number of other minerals, including hiddenite, the green variety of spodumene which bears his name.
Today the major commercial rhodolite deposits are in India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Madagascar. Most of the high quality material we've seen in the market recently comes from Africa, especially Madagascar.