There are many different species of stones within the garnet family. Almandite, demantoid, hessonite, malaya, pyrope, rhodolite, spessartite and tsavorite are all stones in the garnet family tree.
Almandite: Almandite gets its name from an ancient Asian hotbed of gemstone and fashion trading: the town of Alabanda. This red stone was said to have lit the course, attached to the bow of Noah’s ark after he recognized its “inner fire” as a superior light source.
Demantoid: Discovered in the Russian Ural Mountains in 1868, this garnet was marketed by Tiffany and Company as an attractive alternative to the emerald.
Hessonite: A close relative of the tsavorite garnet, the hessonite originally came from Sri Lanka.
Malaya: Discovered in 1960s East Africa, the malaya garnet was born of a chemical mixture of the two garnets, pyrope and spessartite. Its peppy and bright colors created a small and strong US market in the 1980s.
Pyrope: Greeks and Romans valued the pyrope while the Greek word pyropos means “fiery-eyed” which perfectly describes the lavish red color of this garnet. This was also a popular stone among Victorian era jewelry.
Rhodolite: The two Greek words that impart the name of this garnet: rhodon (“rose”) and lithos (“stone”) speak to its beautiful color.
Spessartite: Spessart, Germany was once a prominent source for this gem and hence became its namesake.
Tsavorite: Discovered in Kenya in the 1970s, Tiffany and Company made this gem a popular seller in the US market.
The most familiar member of the garnet family is almandite, bearing a red or reddish-purple to orangey hue. Demantoid is a garnet with a green to yellowish-green color. It also carries inclusions known as “horse tails”; wispy and fiber-like, they branch out from a central point. Often called “cinnamon stone”, hessonite has warm, brownish hues including oranges, yellows and reds. The malaya garnet projects the perky colors of light to dark pinks, reds and yellowish-orange. The pyrope garnet is typically a brilliant red but also comes in medium to dark reddish-orange or purplish-red. Actually a mixture of almandite and pyrope, rhodolite is known for its dark purplish-red or reddish-purple color. Spessartite is a different looking garnet usually found in a bright orange to dark yellowish or reddish-orange color. Tsavorite is usually an explosive green or yellowish-green stone, intense in its color.
Birthstone Info/Rock type:
Garnet (all varieties) | January
Almandite: Almandite is one of the most common and best-selling garnets.
Demantoid: Rare, the high-quality demantoid has been difficult to find and thus is a more expensive stone. Supplies in Namibia have recently been uncovered leading to an increase in its availability.
Hessonite: Less popular than spessartite, hessonite can sometimes be difficult to find. Hessonite stones over one carat can be on the expensive side.
Malaya: Typically available in a variety of fancy shapes up to ten carats, the malaya is on the high-end when it comes to expensive garnets.
Pyrope: Pyrope is rarely seen in sizes larger than two carats due to its limited availability. This makes it a more expensive gem.
Rhodolite: This garnet is widely available in many sizes and is a best-seller next to almandite.
Spessartite: You should generally be able to locate a round or fancy shape of this gem up to ten carats. Its vibrant orange color will sometimes lead to higher prices than garnets of a more common reddish hue.
Tsavorite: Few known sources of this garnet equal limited supplies leading to a more expensive gem. This stone is generally found in a smaller size, typically maxing out at three carats.
Warm, soapy water is a safe way to clean garnets of all varieties. See below for other cleaning methods best for your specific garnet type.
Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe on almandite.
Never steam clean almandite.
Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe on demantoid unless there are liquid inclusions which would make it risky.
Never steam clean demantoid.
Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe on hessonite unless there are liquid inclusions which would make it risky.
Never steam clean hessonite.
Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe on malaya.
Never steam clean malaya.
Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe on pyrope.
Steam cleaning pyrope is risky.
Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe on rhodolite.
Never steam clean rhodolite.
Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe on spessartite unless there are large or numerous inclusions or fractures which would make it risky.
Never steam clean spessartite.
Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe on tsavorite unless there are liquid inclusions which would make it risky.
Never steam clean tsavorite.
Garnets have been used as beads and inlays. They can be found in round or fancy shapes. Collectors and admirers alike appreciate their applications in antique Victorian era jewelry. The garnet is quite the chameleon of a stone.