Colorless Garnet

I am not a garnet girl. I think they are beautiful but the range of colors hasn’t exactly captured my heart the way that other stone varieties have. Now, that being said, I own a few of the lesser known varieties.

Before I really got into gems, I was in the dark, like most other people, and thought that garnets only came in that orangey red color that seems to be prevalent in the mall jewelry stores. So the first time I saw a tsavorite, I was absolutely blown away. Who knew that garnets could come in green?!

Right now, I have a few darker mint garnets/tsavorites, a smaller mint from the Merelani Hills, an orange Loliondo Spessartite and a very light buttery yellow grossular garnet in my possession. Eventually I would like to add a more purple-pink (likely Rhodolite) garnet, as well as a light pink/peach (Malaya/Malaia) to my repertoire.

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Garnets come in a variety of colors, from the browns to yellows, to purples, pinks and reds, plus some of the most vibrant and saturated greens and oranges in the gemstone world. Garnets can do some color shifting as well, the most pleasing is usually between blue and purple colorways. Colorless happens to be one of the most rare colors, and due to garnet’s dispersion, one of the most beautiful and diamond like. These are commonly called leuco garnets.

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Which brings me to my current conundrum, because it’s the dispersion and the colorless bit that’s giving me pause in the case of the current very light yellow situation. I had been interested in a darker yellow round garnet and had started visualizing designs for a pendant for an existing chain, but the seller decided against selling it before I could pull the trigger. The light oval is more expensive, roughly two times as much as the round, as it is lighter in tone and therefore more valuable.

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In this last photo, there is a distinct dark stripe through the center of the stone. This is commonly called a “bowtie” and is a relatively common cut flaw with pear, oval, elongated cushions and marquise cut stones. Having said that, because this stone was cut by the super talented John Dyer, the bowtie that appears in the photo is actually a reflection of the camera lens. You can see on the bottom right of the stone, there is a brown splotchy patch – that is reflecting my skin. However, that little purple-looking facet on the right side is some of that dispersion I was talking about. Part of the problem with photographing gemstones is eliminating environmental factors, including the camera because the facets reflect everything, just like tiny mirrors.

If I do end up keeping this stone, I would put it in a fancy yellow diamond halo (but never plain and hugging the outline of the stone), in yellow gold, and attach it to my existing Italian yellow gold chain. No matter what, the project will need more thought and planning, as the chain has significant sentimental value to me.

More colored garnets to come!

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11 thoughts on “Colorless Garnet

  1. Glad it found a home..i had this gem but returned it as it was sold to me as colourless and windowless…of course it was neither. I had such high hopes as i have several leucos which are amazing…

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  2. This particular garnet is from Mali Africa and these are almost always a mixture of grossular and andradite garnets so the refractive index and dispersion are usually a little more than that found in the pure grossular varieties of colorless or lightly colored garnet.

    (Not sure if I told you that already, but happy that you are happy.)

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    1. That is great to know! Why do you think that particular combination produces a high RI and more dispersion? This is the second most colorless garnet I’ve ever played with, I find it fascinating and fun to play with. They are certainly few and far between.

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      1. It is because of the Andradite component. Andradite when green is known as Demantoid which means “Diamond like” because of high dispersion and refractive index which is a property of that garnet species. Garnets however often are a mixture of different varieties and so take on the characteristics of both. Mali Garnet has a refractive index that overlaps that of sapphire (think lots of brilliance) and high dispersion because of the Andradite component. (This is from an article in Gems and Gemology that came out years ago when this material first appeared. Unfortunately it is getting harder and harder to get anything of any size.

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      2. So, I know that these super pale garnets are rare. Why is that? And just how rare are we talking? And are the almost colorless always a combination of Adradite and Mali?

        I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions! Thank you!

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      3. Generally speaking colorless or near colorless garnets are usually Grossular garnets. The Mali garnet breaks the mold a bit because of its mix of Grossular AND Andradite.

        Most grossulars have some impurity which will give them a color, chromium or vanadium will cause green (Tsavorite or mint garnet) and other impurities will cause brown/orange (Hessonite). I am not quite sure what is the coloring agent in Mali garnet though.

        I haven’t ever heard of a colorless pure Andradite but I can’t guarantee that one doesn’t exist.

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      4. You’re just giving me more material for questions to ask!

        So is there a difference in desirability or value between a grossular having chromium or vanadium as the coloring agent?

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      5. Basically what is important is the color, Vanadium and Chromium in Grossular usually give you green so the price would be based upon how green and how pretty a green.

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