One of the rarest members of the Garnet family, Spessartite has only been around for less than 200 years.
While still brilliant, this Nigerian Spessartite is almost pure red with a dark tone and strong saturation due to its higher iron content
Spessartite is named after its original source in Spessart in the German state of Bavaria after its discovery in the mid-19th century. It is a member of the Garnet family.
Garnets are present in many myths as a symbol of light, faith and truth. It is said Crusaders set Garnets into their armour because they symbolised Christ's sacrifice. Also present in Islam, Garnets illuminate the fourth heaven, while for Norsemen, they guide the way to Valhalla.
Spessartite is a part of the Garnet family, a group of minerals possessing similar crystal structures, varying in composition. It is a ‘self coloured’ gemstone and the manganese present in every Spessartite means that the gem with always be a shade of orange.
Depending on how much iron of Almandine Garnet is present, deeper reds and reddish-browns are also possible.
The colours typically seen in Spessartite are orange, deep reddish-orange, rich golden orange with red flashes, yellowish-orange and deep red. The more intense vibrant reddish-oranges and 'classic' rich oranges are typically the most valuable.
Spessartite 9K White Gold Ring
The high refraction of Spessartite, it has the fifth highest refractive index after Diamond, Sphene, Zircon and Demantoid, means that a good brilliance is standard.
Although Spessartite is regarded as a Type II gemstone occurring with some minor inclusions that may be eye-visible, favour eye-clean gems. Lighter coloured and larger examples, as well as Namibian Mandarin Garnet, may have more inclusions.
After being discovered in Bavaria, Spessartine was later found in Virginia's Rutherford Mines. The Namibia’s and Nigerian mines are currently the most significant sources but Spessartine is also mined in Australia, Brazil, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zambia
Hessonite is the orange version of Grossular Garnet, Tsavorite being its green variety. Hessonite comes in shades of orange, sometimes with hints of red and brown, resulting in this colour being aptly called the 'cinnamon stone'. Hessonite's entomology can confuse because the Greek 'esson' actually means 'inferior'. While softer than other Garnets, Hessonite is still a durable jewellery gemstone. According to Vedic tradition, setting Hessonite in gold is believed to increase both your happiness and lifespan. A clean Hessonite is the exception rather than the rule, due to the prevalence of inclusions giving it a streaky, toffee-like look. Most Hessonite continues to be obtained from its classic source, Sri Lanka.
The Mandarin Garnet, as its name suggests, has a pure, almost neon, vivid mandarin colour. The most valuable of all Spessartite, Mandarin Garnet was discovered in Kunene in northwest Namibia, first mined in 1991. Also called 'Kunene Spessartine', it is typically differentiated from Spessartite from other origins by its inclusions and graining, giving it a 'sleepy' appearance.