Garnets are captivating gemstones often placed in rings, earrings, pendants, and other jewelry pieces. Although there are various colors of garnets, red is the recognized hue for the birthstone for January. Buying garnets can be a little daunting, but with this buyer guide you’ll be able to pick the perfect gem for your needs.
Types of Garnets
Thanks to the extensive varieties of garnets available in the world right now, this has been categorized into different species or types. The widely accepted garnet species include the following:
Almandine is the most common type of garnet with a generally reddish-brown to dark red color. This is also the hardest type of garnet cut for use in various jewelry styles provided that it is clear enough.
Usually dubbed to be the most lustrous out of all garnets, andradite comes in various colors, most popularly black and green. Andradite is a term rarely used for describing gems and is further divided into types or groups, such as the highly coveted Demantoid garnets.
Despite the lack of color in the purest state, the rare green Tsavorite whose color is the result of impurities is among the most valuable types of garnets you can find in the market today. You can also find grossular in shades that range from reddish orange to yellow.
Garnet’s most reputed variant, pyrope is a variety of deep red colors that has the highest value and is usually compared to rubies.
This garnet variant has a bright orange clear color with an eye-catching brilliance that makes many jewelers favor this gemstone.
It is a unique green garnet variant that often appears in tiny crystals.
When buying garnet, choose one with red, orangish-red, or medium saturated purplish red colors, an eye-clean clarity, round or oval shapes, and a well-proportioned cut with overall brilliance. The stone must also have an excellent polish without any treatment.
Factors To Consider When Buying Garnets
If you are planning to buy a garnet birthstone, whether for someone special or yourself, you can be sure that this decision will be worth it. When buying one, check how the garnet will reach under the light, both synthetic and natural light, and check for saturated and intense color.
Garnets often come in an extensive array of reds, although these can also be pink, blue, green, or sometimes, even colorless. The piece’s price will probably increase for colors that are rarer such as blue or green.
Garnet stones can also be assessed using similar parameters as those of diamonds, with cut and clarity having an impact on the gemstone’s overall value and beauty.
It is important to take note that there are garnets with inclusions that are part of the overall beauty of the gemstone. Good examples of these are horsetails in the demantoid garnets as well as hessonite garnets that often show off a “turbulent” appearance. You might find how enjoyable it is to marvel at the exceptional look of these inclusions that can make the piece more stunning.
Try to look for a cut that can spread light evenly over the gemstone’s surface, helping bring out the color and overall beauty of the garnet. Whatever gemstone you pick, don’t forget that the garnet is best known for its richness of color and durability. This way, you can be sure that your investment will not only offer exceptional value but will also be a piece that can stand the test of time.
The color of the garnet is one of the most important pricing factors. So far, the most expensive ones are the eye-striking vivid red, burgundy, and blue garnets because of their brilliant hues. Even the rarer garnets with deep green colors are also even more valued. However, other more common varieties such as brown, orange, or reddish-brown are quite easy on the pocket.
Aside from the exciting spectrum of colors that garnet displays, many of these stones also show very exceptional clarity because of the absence of inclusions.
It is applicable for varieties in deep red colors such as rhodolite, almandine, and pyrope. Garnets in orange hues are known to have the least clarity. Most of the time, these inclusions can form the phenomenon known as asterism or the star effect that can make a garnet look even more gorgeous.
The cut is another critical factor when it comes to buying garnet. Stones are usually cut in such a way that will maximize the refraction of light, thus enhancing the stone’s overall brilliance. But when shopping for rare garnets, such as the green garnet, the cut of the stone must be done to retain its carat weight.
Depending on the specific quality, color, and type of the cut and stone, the price of faceted and loose garnets can vary a lot. The average cost is approximately $20 to $30 per carat for faceted red garnets such as rhodolite, almandine, and pyrope.
Spessartite, on the other hand, is priced a bit higher compared to average stones at $40 to $50 per carat. Meanwhile, rarer specimens such as good mandarin garnet can cost more than $100 per carat. The Russian demantoid garnet is the garnet variety that sells for a more expensive price, ranging from $100 per carat up to $400 per carat.
The bezel setting is the simplest and among the earliest methods used to set gemstones into jewelry. This features a thin band that completely surrounds the circumference of the gem. The bezel setting offers the gemstone good protection from snagging on fabric and chipping while making the stone look bigger than its actual size.
Being the most secure out of all settings, a bezel is recommended for gemstones with lower than 7 Mohs hardness ratings. Since garnet has Mohs hardness values of 6.5 to 7.5, this setting can work best for the stone. There is also no special cut that is best set in the bezel because a high skilled jeweler can set any kind of cut into the half-bezel or bezel.
Since the stone is also well-protected, the bezel setting can resist rough wear exposure and is perfect for people with active lifestyles. Unlike prong settings, it is unlikely for the stone to become loose and fall out of a bezel setting.
Garnet can range from dark burgundy to a fiery red to a pastel purplish pink. Every tone has a unique personality. When buying garnet, stay away from brown secondary colors and excessive black reflections that can make the stone look dull or rusty.
The quality of the cut is also extremely crucial for garnet’s beauty. Well-cut garnets will have an even sparkle all over the gemstone without lifeless, dull, or washed-out areas.