About Garnet – Spessartite
Spessartite is a very rare and fiery member of the Garnet Group.
The reason that we refer to Garnet as a group is that all species of Garnets possess similar physical properties and crystal form, but differ in chemical composition. The different species are Pyrope, Almandine, Spessartine, Grossular – (varieties of which are Hessonite and Tsavorite), Uvarovite and Andradite.
The name Spessartite comes from Spessart, a district in the State of Bavaria Germany, that was once an important source. However, up until 1991 Spessartite was a little known, collectors gemstone. The most famous type of Spessartite is the color know as ‘Mandarin’. As you can imagine this beautiful gem is the color of a mandarin orange. Commercial quantities were first discovered in the Northwest corner of Namibia. At this remote spot, one of the last untouched places on Earth, the first Mandarin Garnets were discovered. Embedded in mica and mica schist, small crystals of an unusual orange color and high transparency were discovered, and they immediately attracted the attention of the specialists. Experts confirmed initial suppositions: it was a find involving the rare orange gemstone variety known as ‘Spessartite Garnet.’ Until then, Spessartite had been found in Sri Lanka, Upper Burma, Madagascar, Brazil, Australia, Kenya and Tanzania, and yet they were practically unknown in jewelry, catering mainly to the interests of gemstone lovers and collectors. The reason for this obscurity was due to the fact that specimens with really good color and quality were only found very rarely indeed. The fantastic crystals from Namibia, on the other hand, were of an unusually fine, intensely radiant orange. Some sparkled in the rich reddish-orange of the last light of evening, seen when the sun has already disappeared below the horizon. They were more beautiful and more radiant than anything that had gone before them.
Since that time other deposits have been found in Nigeria, however as was in the past, Spessartite has again become very rare and quite expensive.
Sources are Brazil , Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma) Namibia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and the US.
Hardness is 7 to 7.5 and Toughness is fair to good.
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