August 2015 Newsletter: Raspberry Rhodolite Garnet


Red is one of the rarest colors in the gems world, and a pure hue, such as the famed pigeon's blood red, is exceptionally rare. Most red gems tend to have a secondary hue of orange, pink, purple or brown.

In the harder gems (7+ on the Mohs scale), the choices in red gems are confined to ruby, spinel, garnet and tourmaline. The garnets tend to be the most affordable of red gems, but the common garnets -- almandine and pyrope -- tend to be a dark brownish-red which is not attractive. The rarer rhodolite garnet is the noteworthy exception. It displays a vivid raspberry red hue with no trace of brown.

7.75 ct Rhodolite Garnet, Madagascar
7.75 ct Rhodolite

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 which are double that of rhodolite, even though rubellites tend to have significant inclusions, while rhodolite is usually quite clean. So that makes rhodolite an especially good value.

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.

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 and Tanzania.

See our collection of Fine Rhodolite Garnet



Notable Gems from the AJS Collection

This month we feature new acquisitions to our collection, including two new rhodolites garnets and a fine aquamarine in a saturated medium blue.

Click on a photo to see the details for the item.

39.22 ct Rhodoilte Garnet from Madagascar

A huge rhodolite from Madagascar, nearly 40 carats! Rich deep red color with bright red flashes as it turns in the light. Thought the tone is deep, the color is open and appears red even under low lighting. This rare gem will look beautiful when set or displayed in your collection. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See the video

5.98 ct Aquamarine from Brazil
5.98 ct Aquamarine from Brazil  [SOLD]

A very fine aquamarine with unusually good color saturation. This nearly 6 carat oval is a vivid medium blue, a color very hard to find in mid-sized aquas. This is completely clean material which has been expertly cut to display full brilliance. Perfectly sized for an elegant ring. Guaranteed natural and untreated.


11.14 ct Malaia Garnet from East Africa

11.14 ct Malaia Garnet from East Africa  [SOLD]

A lovely red-orange Malaia Garnet over 11 carats. This fine gem has been precision cut in an elegant emerald cut with perfect proportions and symmetry. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See our collection of Fine Malaia Garnet

12.13 ct Morganite Suite, Brazil

A lovely 3 piece suite of Brazilian morganite in the rare pink color. The large stone, suitable for a ring or pendant, is 5.60 cts (16.44  x 10.55 x 7.63 mm) while the matching pair has a total weight of 6.53 cts (with each piece measuring about 12.51 x 8.24 x 5.57 mm). Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See the video

7.46 ct Apatite from Madagascar

7.46 ct Apatite from Madagascar  [SOLD]

A recent find of Apatite from Madagascar has the unique distinction of looking like Paraiba Tourmaline at a fraction of the price. You can never be sure how many stones will come out of the ground, this is one gemstone that you may want to add to your collection. Remarkably vivid color and very clean material. Guaranteed natural.


7.97 ct Rhodolite Garnet from Madagascar

An impressive purplish-red rhodolite in an elegant emerald cut. With an open color and full fire, this fine gem will make a gorgeous ring or pendant. Guaranteed natural and unheated.

See the video

News from AJS and the Gems World

  • Gold, Silver and Platinum Trading at Multiyear Lows

    Gold, silver, and platinum were all trading at multiyear lows at the end of July, with platinum going below the $1,000 benchmark and gold trading under $1,100. Platinum and silver reached 6 year lows, while gold hit a 5 year low. While perhaps bad news for investors, it's good news for jewelry lovers. 

  • Opal found in Martian Meteorite

    UK scientists have found traces of opal gemstones in a meteorite which fell to Earth from Mars in 1911. Analysis with a scanning electron microscope revealed that a fragment of the meteorite contained 1.7 grams of fire opal. The finding is scientifically significant for an understanding of Mars since opal is typically found in hot springs which are a source of mineral rich water that supports microbial life.


Ask the Gem Experts

Each month we answer questions from our customers. We welcome your questions and you can submit a question from our contact page.

How important is origin to the value of a gemstone?  PG, UK

Even though it's always interesting to know where a gem was mined, origin is no guarantee of quality or value. Famous locations, such as Mogok in Burma or Mahenge in Tanzania, are highly regarded because they have produced some outstanding gems. But while many fine rubies have come from Mogok, so have many lesser gems; and fine rubies have been mined in Madagascar and Mozambique. So each gemstone has to be evaluated on its own merits. 


Could you explain the difference between natural and cultured pearls? Are the cultured pearls synthetic? HY, Singapore

Pearls are formed when a foreign particle is lodged inside a natural mollusk, which responds by secreting calcium carbonate (nacre) to cover the irritant. Over time the layers of nacre form a pearl. This process can occur by chance in nature, but natural pearls are very rare. Cultured pearls are created when the nacre formation process is instigated by man, by the insertion of a pearl nucleus into the mollusk. Thus cultured pearls are natural, not synthetic, because they are formed by a natural mollusk. But the process begins with the intervention of man, hence the term cultured pearl.


All the best in gems,

Arnold, Rung & Ron