February 2020 Newsletter: Fabulous Garnets

Fabulous Garnets

Garnet is one of the most important gem families, but its popularity has waxed and waned over the years.

Bohemian Garnet jewelry was enormously popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, featuring inexpensive Pyrope or Almandine garnets. But these common red garnets were very dark in tone, with a distinct brownish secondary hue. Eventually they fell out of fashion and the adjective garnety took on pejorative connotations in the gem world.

Common Red Garnets
Common Red Garnets - not fabulous

Today Garnet is back in fashion, but with a rather different look. Now the rarer Garnets in bright and vivid colors are the favorites of designers of fine jewelry. The colors range from the emerald green of Tsavorite to the mandarin orange of Spessartite to the rich red of Rhodolite and the intense violet of Royal Purple Garnet.

Unlike the common dark red Garnets, these are all quite rare gems, especially in fine quality, often with single sources. Tsavorite has only been found in the border region of Tanzania and Kenya, while the top Royal Purple Garnet comes only from Mozambique. While Spessartite has been mined in several locations, most of the clean material with the coveted mandarin orange color has come from a mine in Nigeria that is now worked out.

Garnets have a high refractive index (higher than Ruby and Sapphire) and excellent brilliance and fire in the brighter colors. Garnets have very good hardness (7.5 on the Mohs scale) and are suitable for all kinds of jewelry. They are also one of the few singly refractive gems (along with diamond and spinel), giving them a purity of color.

High quality Garnets are completely natural and untreated, with very good clarity and transparency and outstanding brilliance. Fabulous!



Notable Gems from the AJS Collection

This month we feature some fabulous Garnets from our collection in a wonderful range of colors and shapes. Click on any gem for details.

2.34 ct Mandarin Spessartite Garnet from Nigeria
A very fine Spessartite Garnet from the exceptional mines of Nigeria. This unusual gem has a fully saturated mandarin orange color and has been precision cut in a unique fancy shape. This is a terrific one-of-a-kind gem that will sparkle in your jewelry design. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

4.68 ct Royal Purple Garnet pair from Mozambique

4.68 ct Royal Purple Garnet Matched Pair from Mozambique  [SOLD]
A gorgeous matched pair of Royal Purple Garnets from Mozambique, exquisitely fashioned in a precision Asscher cut! This is beautiful clean material with a vivid open color. Under cool light, these gems display a rich purple hue, changing to cranberry with magenta flashes under incandescent light. These rare gems will make an exceptional pair of earrings. Guaranteed natural and untreated.
3.04 ct Tsavorite Garnet from Tanzania

A top Tsavorite Garnet cushion from Tanzania over 3 carats! This rare Tsavorite has amazing brilliance with a vivid green hue with just a touch of a blue secondary. This is beautiful crystal, very clean and precision cut. This fine gemstone will set up beautifully in your jewelry design and will be an important addition to any collection. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See the video

6.15 ct Malaia Garnet from East Africa

An impressive red-orange Malaia Garnet in a custom fancy cut. This rare gem has beautiful crystal -- completely loupe clean -- and has been precision-cut with a perfect polish. This is a fine gem for the garnet connoisseur and will look stunning when set in your jewelry design. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See the video

3.11 ct Color Change Garnet from Madagascar

A beautiful and large (rare over 3 carats) Color Change Garnet from Madgascar. Displays a great color change to a deep strawberry under incandescent light. Exceptionally clean with very good fire, a very nice specimen for jewelry or the rare Garnet collector. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See the video

17.15 ct Rhodolite Garnet from Madagascar

Big and beautiful Rhodolite from Madagascar! Rich color, perfectly clean and very well cut. This impressive Rhodolite -- about 20 x 14 mm -- will make a gorgeous pendant. Guaranteed natural and untreated.

See the video


News from AJS and the Gems World

Heart Shaped Gems for Valentine's Day

There are few gifts as romantic as a fine piece of jewelry, and few gems as romantic as a heart shaped stone. Give your heart to your beloved this Valentine’s Day, and celebrate the day with a heart shaped gem. It will be a gift you’ll both treasure for years to come. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 2.08 ct Blue Sapphire Heart from Madagascar  1.60 ct Burma Ruby  1.13 ct Tsavorite Garnet from Kenya
 2.08 ct Blue Sapphire  1.60 ct Burma Ruby  1.13 ct Tsavorite Garnet

See our collection of romantic Heart-Shaped Gems


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.

Could you explain what the numbers mean for the refractive index of a gemstone, such as 1.762-1.778 for sapphire? Why are there 2 numbers? Is a higher number better? SA, USA


The simple answer is that the refractive index measures how light is bent when it enters the a gemstone. A higher number indicates that light is bent more strongly.

In general, a gem with a higher refractive index will display more brilliance because more of the light is reflected back out the crown instead of passing through the base of the gem.

The reason that there are typically 2 numbers for the refractive index of a gem is because most gems are doubly refractive -- light entering the gems is split into two paths, each with a slightly different angle of refraction. The difference between the two values, such as 1.762 and 1.778 for sapphire, is known as the birefringence.

Only a few gemstones are singly refractive, having only a single refractive index. Gems with a cubic crystal structure, such as diamond, garnet and spinel are singly refractive.

For more information about refractive index, and a chart comparing all the gemstone varieties, see our Guide to Gemstone Refractive Index.


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All the best in gems,

Ron, May & and Rung