Garnet Group

The Mineral and Gemstone Kingdom        
Color Red, reddish-brown, brown, green, yellow, orange, pink, purplish-red, white, colorless, black (Garnet occurs in every color except for blue)
Hardness 6½ - 8½
SG 3.5 - 4.3
RI 1.780 - 1.889
DR None
Luster Pyrope, Almandine, Spessartine, and Grossular have a vitreous luster
Andradite (including Demantoid) and Uvarovite have an adamantine luster

Garnets are often thought of as dark red gems. Garnets, however, have a great color variation, and gems of all colors (except blue) are cut from them. Garnet is not a single mineral, but a group of minerals closely related in physical and chemical properties. The individual minerals of the garnet group are called "garnets" The six types of garnet used as gems are:

Each type is discussed in detail:


Mineral information Pyrope
Chemical composition Mg3Al2Si3O12
Color Deep red to nearly black; rose-red to violet
Hardness 6½ - 7½
SG 3.5 - 3.6
RI 1.780 - 1.810

Pyrope is the most famous form of garnet. Its dark, blood-red color is distinct and attractive. Pyrope gemstones are often totally clean of inclusions. A rose-red to violet variety, known as rhodolite, is also a popular gem. Rhodolite is not a pure variety of pyrope, but a mixture of pyrope and almandine.

Many deceitful names are given to pyrope garnet in connotation with ruby. These names are used by unscrupulous dealers to confuse inexperienced buyers:
 Adelaide Ruby

 American Ruby
 Arizona Ruby
 Australian Ruby
 Bohemian Ruby
 California Ruby
 Cape Ruby
 Colorado Ruby
 Elie Ruby
 Montana Ruby

 Rocky Mountain Ruby

 Carbuncle refers to any deep red garnet, usually pyrope (but also almandine) cut into a cabochon. This is an ancient term and is rarely used anymore.


Mineral information Almandine
Chemical composition Fe3Al2Si3O12
Color Deep red to reddish-brown, sometimes with a violet or brown hue
Hardness 6½ - 8½
SG 4.3
RI 1.730 - 1.760

Almandine is the most common garnet, and the most widely used garnet gem. It is usually black and opaque, but lighter colored stones are occasionally found. Most almandine is too dark to use as a gem. The underside of some gems are hollowed out to let more light enter the stone, thus giving the gem a lighter color. If the bottom of the garnet is covered by a jewelry setting, the only way to easily determine if the garnet is hollow is by its lighter weight. Almandine garnets are usually faceted with the brilliant cut, which fully displays the fiery red color of this gem. Very dark or heavily included almandine garnets are cut and polished into cabochons, andasterism (in the form of a four rayed "star") is observable in almandine garnets from certain localities.

 Oriental garnet
 Alabandine Ruby

 Precious garnet refers to deep red, transparent almandine


Mineral information Spessartine
Chemical composition Mn3Al2Si3O12
Color Brown, orange, pink, brownish-red
Hardness 7
SG 4.2
RI 1.795 - 1.815

Natural spessartine has an orange color, but iron impurities are usually present, giving it a reddish or brownish color. Spessartine itself is not a common garnet, and is usually not found as transparent, gem quality material. Orange, pink, and brownish-red gems and cabochons are cut from this garnet. Spessartine is one of the lesser-known garnets, as it does not have any superior attributes over the other garnets (and it is rather uncommon). A purplish-red to violet garnet, known as grape garnet, is an intermediary between spessartine and almandine. A new find was recently discovered in India, sparking new interest in this rare, purplish form of garnet.

 Malaia Garnet


Mineral information Grossular
Chemical composition Ca3Al2Si3O12
Color Colorless, white, green, yellow, pink, brown, orange, orange-red. Massive grossular garnet may be multicolored white, light green, and pink.
Hardness 6½ - 7½
SG 3.6
RI 1.738 - 1.745

Grossular is the most varicolored garnets. Pure grossular, without any impurities, is colorless; the wide range of colors in this garnet is caused by various impurities. Many of the varieties have distinct names, some of which are used in jewelry:
 HessoniteEssonite, or Cinnamon Stone - Orange to orange-brown, transparent variety of grossular
 Tsavorite - Emerald-green transparent variety of grossular
 Leuco-garnet - Colorless, transparent variety of grossular
 Rosolite - Light pink variety of grossular
 Imperial Garnet - Light pink, transparent gem variety of grossular
 Raspberry Garnet - Raspberry-red variety of grossular
 Gooseberry Garnet - Gooseberry-green garnet (light greenish-brown) of grossular

Grossular garnet is cut into various gems, with the varieties hessonite (orange) and tsavorite (green) being the most popular. The pink form of this gem is occasionally cut into gems, but all other colors are rarely used. Grossular garnet also has another gem form, that, like jade, is used in carvings and sculptures. This massive, compact variety is usually called South African Jade or Transvaal Jade. Other names for this material are African Jade and Garnet Jade. This material is usually green, but is sometimes multicolored pink and green. It was often mistaken for jade in the ancient oriental jade market.



Mineral information Andradite
Chemical composition Ca3Fe3+2Si3O12
Color Green, yellow, orange, reddish-brown, brown, black
Hardness 6½ - 7½
SG 3.8 - 3.9
RI 1.888 - 1.889

Andradite is the most lustrous of all garnets, and its dispersion ("fire") exceeds even that of diamond. There are three gem varieties of andradite:

 Demantoid - emerald-green to green variety of andradite
 Topazolite - yellow variety of andradite
 Melanite - lustrous, opaque black or dark red variety of andradite

The demantoid variety, which is remarkably rare, is the most valuable form of garnet. The combination of its color and fire give it unsurpassed splendor. Demantoid is easily identified by its characteristic "horsetail" inclusions. Demantoid was very popular in the 19th century, but its popularity has decreased because of its rarity and softness. The variety topazolite rarely occurs in crystals large enough to be worth faceting, and is thus rarely seen in jewelry. The variety melanite was once used in mourning jewelry, but does not have any gem use nowadays.


Mineral information Uvarovite
Chemical composition Ca3Cr2Si3O12
Color Emerald-green
Hardness 7 - 7½
SG 3.7 - 3.8
RI 1.860 - 1.870

Uvarovite is the rarest of the familiar garnets, and is seldom used as a gem. It only occurs in very small crystals, and a crystal large enough for faceting is usually preserved as a mineral specimen. This garnet is only occasionally faceted for collectors into gems.


Due to the great color variations of garnet, many other gemstones may be confused with it. In addition, many of the garnets are very similar in appearance, such as demantoid and tsavorite. Below is a list of gemstones that appear similar to the garnets:

Red garnet - rubyspinelrubellite, and carnelian
Green garnet - emeraldtourmalinehiddenitezircon
Yellow-green garnet - peridot, chrysoberylheliodortopaz
Orange garnet - topazchrysoberylgolden berylzircon, citrine, spinel
Pink garnet - rose quartz, kunzitespineltourmalinetopazmorganitepink sapphire
Massive, compact grossular garnet - jade, californite


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