Another member of garnet family, spessartite garnet is no ordinary garnet. Spessartite is a brilliant gem with a refractive index comparable with precious stones, it is higher even than saphire. Only zircon, sphene and diamond are higher on the refractive index.
Garnets have always been popular semi precious stones, especially the birghter, harder versions and they don’t come brighter than spessartite.
Spessartite is manganese aluminum silicate by composition, the manganese providing its remarkable orange color. Spessartite is among the small group of ideochromatic gems, which are colored by a fundamental element in their composition rather than by impurities. Some spessartite has traces of iron which result in a rich orange-red color that is highly regarded by spessartite connoisseurs. Till the turn of the 20th century, spessartite was too rare to be considered valuable to anyone but collectors – its a catch 22 that gems need to be rare, but not so rare they are unheard of before the become popular, and thus valuable to the masses. This changed in 1991 when a new find was made in northwestern Namibia. In 1999 a much larger discovery was made in Nigeria and hsortly after in Mozambique. Today spessartite is found in many countries around the world, inlcuding Sri Lanka and Brazil. Other sources include Australia, Burma, India, Israel, Madagascar and the US.
Another stone bordering between precious and semi precious, its beauty and lustre probalby not enough to overcome the fact its a stone that requires faceting to look truly beatufiul, and with a hardness less than 8 it is not strong enough to go undamaged year after year.