Most people born in January know their birthstone is the garnet. Most people who know that think of garnets as red. Predominantly, that’s true. Of the six species of garnet, one is exclusively red, and three others grow in – if not true red – very warm tones from orangey red to brownish red. But there is one species of garnet that doesn’t come in red at all.
In fact, there are three species of garnet that produce some of the most stunning greens in the world of colored gemstones. To the untrained eye, there are specimens of these varieties that could easily be confused for emeralds. That’s because the coloring agents in these garnets are the same ones that color emeralds – chromium and vanadium.
Uvarovite (oo-vahr-o-vite), grossularite, and andradite produce the green gemmy material. Uvarovite is only ever green because chromium is part of its chemical makeup. Uvarovite only grows as drusy, but it is such a lush, vibrant green that it more than makes up for its unusual medium of presentation.
Green grossularite is fairly common, but it’s usually more of a gooseberry green because it’s often colored by iron. But there is a variety colored by vanadium found in Kenya called Tsavorite (sa-voh-rite) that is a deep, rich green akin to Zambian emeralds, which are also colored by vanadium. They have a slightly bluish tint to their green, making the very distinctive from other green garnets. But some of them really are pure, spectral green.
And then there is demantoid, a variety of the andradite species of garnet. Demantoid is far and away the most expensive of the garnets, and for excellent reason. The best Colombian emeralds get a run for their money from Russian demantoid garnet (pictured). Demantoid is garnet is tougher than emerald, it’s almost always cleaner than emerald, and it’s usually completely untreated and unenhanced.
Demantoid also has one dazzling property that only a handful of other jewelry-safe gems in the entire world can claim: it has more fire than diamond. Breaking up white light into the rainbow of colors (called dispersion) is one of diamond’s most prized abilities, and demantoid does it better.
All in all, I hope you won’t write garnets off as one-dimensional. There’s so much variety out there, and they’re all so beautiful. Please stop by to see some of my green garnets, as well as a bunch of other colors that people don’t typically associate with garnet.
But I just wanted to make sure garnets got their due with this one. There’s so much to appreciate.