Referred to by some as the Garnet of the Sun; Spessartite is one of the lesser-known and rarer varieties of Garnet. At Holt’s we like to think of it as the Aperol Garnet. Its energizing warmth radiates in shades of dark gold, Fanta orange, scarlet and deep red. Spessartite has an exceptionally high refractive index giving well cut gemstones a special brilliance.
Spessartite Garnet, takes its name from the Spessart district of Bavaria, where it was first discovered. More commercial sources of the gem include Myanmar, India, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Tanzania and the United States.
Spessartite has several aliases. In around 1990 Spessartite Garnets with an amazing orange colour and luminosity were discovered at the banks of the Kunene River between Namibia and Angola. The stunning quality of these stones immediately captured the gem community. At first the new stones were termed "Hollandine", after the family colour of the Netherland Royals. Later the name Mandarin Garnet took hold because in ancient China only the high ranking officials, the mandarins, were allowed to wear orange.
To the untrained eye, Spessartite can often be hard to differentiate from Hessonite Garnet. One way to identify between the two, is to look at the inclusions; Spessartite inclusions are typically shredded looking (like bits of orange pith inside the stone) while Hessonite Garnets have treacle like swirls inside them, with a scattering of Apatite crystals. A perfect excuse for some photomicrography and an Aperol Spritz 😊