Rhodolite Garnet Gemstone Information

Rhodolite Garnet

Rhodolite is the name used to describe the lovely pinkish, purplish or purple-red garnet which is a mixture of Almandite and Pyrope. This rare garnet shows a wonderful velvety red with a fine purple or raspberry colored undertone. This name was first used in the late nineteenth century to describe the new rhododendron shade of garnet discovered in North Carolina.
Unlike the common red garnets which tend towards a very deep red with a brownish secondary hue, rhodolite is lighter and brighter in color. The best specimens are a rich raspberry that can sometimes resemble the more expensive rubellite tourmaline.

Why Buy Loose Gemstones Instead of Pre-Set Jewelry?
There are many reasons, but basically it comes down to value and choice.

When buying your Rhodolite Garnet gemstone loose instead of a pre-set stone, you can be sure you are getting the best value for your money.  Loose gemstones are less expensive, a better value, and you can really see what you are paying for.  The most important part of getting the right price and finding the best value is to first see what you're getting.  A jewelry setting will hide the inclusions inside a gem, and can deepen or brighten its color.  With a loose stone you can much more easily inspect the gem and see it for what it really is.  In this way you can get a better idea of its true worth and be sure you are paying a fair price.

The second advantage of buying a loose gemstone is choice.  You are free to pick the exact color, cut, shape and variety of the stone for the setting of your dreams, be it yellow gold, white gold, platinum or silver; prong set or bezel set with diamond accents.  You can experience the joy of creating your very own, one-of-a-kind jewelry design. Choose from a variety of jewelry settings and styles to create a completely original presentation that will perfectly suit your individual gemstone and will be as unique as you are!
 Rhodolite garnet ring
Origin Sources include Burma (Myanmar), Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States.
Color light to dark purplish red through reddish purple
Refractive Index 1.760 (+.010, -.020)
Chemical Composition Al2(SiO4)3
Hardness 7 - 7.5
Density 3.84 (+/- .10)
Crystal Structure Cubic

There are two main theoretical groups or "families" of garnet:- pyrope, almandite, spessartite, which are all (metal) aluminium silicates, and uvarovite, grossularite, andradite, which are all calcium (metal) silicates.  In practice, there are probably very few garnets with the precise pure chemical composition shown for their type, since almost all garnets are of mixed types, where one type is partially replaced by another type.

Garnets as a group are relatively common in highly metamorphosed rocks and in some igneous formations. They form under the high temperatures and/or pressures that those types of rocks must endure. Garnets can be used by geologists as a gauge of how much temperature and pressure the rock has endured. Garnets are greatly variable in colors and varieties, though, and many of these are both rare and beautiful, producing genuinely precious gemstones. Some garnets are truly unique in the mineral kingdom and have much to offer as both gemstones and mineral specimens.

The general formula for most of the garnets is A3B2(SiO4)3. The A represents divalent metals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and/or manganese. The B represents trivalent metals such as aluminum, chromium, iron and/or manganese and in the rarer garnets; vanadium, titanium, zirconium and/or silicon. The general formula for a couple of rarer garnets (hibschite and katoite) is A3B2(SiO4)3-X(OH)4X. The main differences in physical properties among the members of the garnet group are slight variations in color, density and index of refraction.

Most gems have a crystalline structure. Crystals have planes of symmetry and are divided into seven symmetry systems. The number of axes, their length, and their angle to each other determine the system to which a crystal belongs.  Garnets are isostructural, meaning that they share the same crystal structure. This leads to similar crystal shapes and properties. Garnets belong to the isometric crystal class, which produces very symmetrical, cube-based crystals. The most common crystal shape for garnets however is the rhombic dodecahedron, a twelve sided crystal with diamond-shaped (rhombic) faces. This basic shape is the trademark of garnets, for no other crystal shape is so closely associated with a single mineral group like the rhombic dodecahedron is with garnets.

Most garnets are red in color, leading to the erroneous belief that all garnets are red. In fact a few varieties, such as grossular, can have a wide range of colors, and uvarovite is always a bright green. As a mineral specimen, garnets usually have well shaped and complex crystals and their color and luster can make for a very beautiful addition to a collection.

What makes Rhodolite Garnet gemstones so special?

Besides its wonderful red colors, Rhodolite Garnet has additional advantages which make it a truly unique and valuable gemstone. There is its hardness of 7 - 7.5, making it suitable for any piece of jewelry.  Additionally these gemstones have a high refractive index, giving them an exceptional brilliance. Even in unfavorable lighting conditionss, well cut Rhodolite garnets will sparkle vividly.  The refractive index (RI), measured using a refractometer, is an indication of the amount light rays are bent by a mineral.  Birefringence is the difference between the minimum and maximum RI. When birefringence is high, light rays reflect off different parts of the back of a stone causing an apparent doubling of the back facets when viewed through the front facet.

The distinctive color of Rhodolite Garnet is caused by the presence of iron and chromium.  Rhodolite Garnets are not as dark in color as the common Pyrope or Almandine Garnets.  Most Rhodolites seen today are African in origin and are bright, transparent Gems. These are probably the most popular garnet seen in fine jewelry today.
Common shades of Rhodolite include red, purplish red and the popular raspberry rhodolite,  a rich red-purple with bright lavender highlights.

Rhodolite Garnet are usually cut similar to other colored stones, with ovals, cushions, trillions and emerald cuts being most common. Other popular Rhodolite Garnet shapes include rounds, marquises, briolettes, hearts, cabochons and pears.  The lack of pleochroism means that orientation is not a problem and the equidimensional shape of the rough generally provides good yields from rough to cut.


Rhodolite Garnet gemstones, like most garnets, are generally not treated.


Originally found in the USA, major sources for Rhodolite Garnet Gemstones are Tanzania and North Carolina, USA.  Other sources include Burma (Myanmar), Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and South Africa.


Since it has been recognized and developed in North Carolina, Rhodolite Garnet has proved to be also the most valuable gem produced commercially in the State. The locality is much the same as that of the Cowee rubies, in Macon County, in the gravels of streams heading on Mason's Mountain, and on the mountain itself at some points. When first observed it was regarded as a very beautiful and brilliant light-colored form of almandine; but analysis subsequently showed that it is a variety intermediate between that and pyrope, in fact an inter-mixture of the two, in the proportion of 2/3 pyrope and 1/3 almandine.

The first mention of these Macon County garnets was apparently clue to Mr. A. M. Field, of Asheville, in 1893,2 and was made by the author in his report on the production of precious stones for that year, and again in 1897.  In the following year, a paper was published by Mr. W.. E. Hidden and Dr. J. H. Pratt, in which the whole subject was treated fully, the analyses described, the nature of the stone determined, and the name of rhodolite proposed for it as a new variety.   This name is from the Greek word rhodon, a rose, from the resemblance of its color to some kind of roses and rhododendrons. The mineral shows a light shade of fine red, without the dark aspect that belongs to most garnets, and it possesses a remarkable degree of brilliancy, especially in artificial light. Those qualities give it great value for gem purposes, and it has become very popular.
The pieces found are not generally large, but stones have been cut of as much as 14 carats. A very fine exhibit of rhodolites was made in the State Geological Survey Exhibit at the recent Expositions at Buffalo, Charleston, and St. Louis. They have been developed by two companies with remarkable success; and apparently more gems in value have been sold from this mine than from all other sources in the State combined.
The renowned Umba River Valley in Tanzania is the acclaimed source of the world’s best Rhodolite.
Brazil is producing a dark purplish Rhodolite, sometimes called grape garnet, because of its similarity of color to concord grape jam.
Throughout time, there have been many ancient traditions and legends about the gemstone garnet...

Garnets have been known to Man for thousands of years. Noah, it is said, used a finely cut, glowing garnet within a lantern to help him steer his ark through the dark night.

Many an early explorer and traveler liked to carry a garnet with him, for the garnet was popular as a talisman and protective stone, as it was believed to light up the night and protect its bearer from evil and disaster.

The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word “Garanatus,” meaning “seedlike,” in reference to a pomegranate. This reference makes sense as small garnets look like the bright red seeds you find inside in a pomegranate.

In medieval times, garnets were thought to cure depression, protect against bad dreams, and relieve diseases of the liver, as well as hemorrhages.

Hebrew writers include the garnet as one of the twelve gems in Aaron’s breastplate.

Christian tradition considered the blood-red garnet as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.

The Koran holds that the garnet illuminates the Fourth Heaven of the Moslems.

The Greeks said garnet guarded children from drowning. It was also thought to be potent against poisons.

Garnets were found as beads in a necklace worn by a young man in a grave that dates back to 3000 B.C. This is proof of the hardness and durability of the stone.

Plato had his portrait engraved on a garnet by a Roman engraver.

Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January and the stone that celebrates the 2nd anniversary of marriage.
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