Garnet is a gemstone which comes in a variety of colours. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a colour garnet doesn’t have in its selection. Blues, yellows, greens, reds, purples, orange and pink are all available to the gem lover who likes a choice. So how do these gems compare in price?
Well red is the cheapest of the garnets, in direct contrast to every other gemstone, where red is the most expensive. A rather strange paradox, but one with a historical explanation. In times past garnet was used to substitute ruby on a regular basis. Indeed, much to red garnets detriment in most cases. One particular example of a ruby on sale at auction springs to mind. When a dealer was asked why he thought a particular ruby didn’t sell, his response was clear. “Well, that ruby just looks like a darn garnet”. So what happens to red garnets now?
The truth is they still have that air of condemnation about them. There are a few examples of red garnet in spessartite garnet and pyrope garnet. As well as the more commonly known almadine garent. One particular red garnet found in Africa is known as the Dusty Rose garnet due to its fine red colour. It has gained popularity recently with designers, and has brought the price up slightly. However overall red garnets are still very cheap in comparison to every other gem. So what is the most expensive garnet?
Well the answer to that would have to be one of two options. demantoid garnet or colour change garnet. The actual price would depend on the size, but a good colour change garnet would out bid the demantoid in smaller sizes. The basic fact is that colour change garnets are the rarest to find, hence the most expensive. So what other garnets are there?
Tsavorite Garnet is another green garnet like demantoid, but more common. I say ‘common’ relatively here. Tsavorite is still a pretty rare gem. In sizes above 3-5 carats it is extremely rare. It tends to have a finer colour than demantoid in the lower grades and is still relatively affordable. Another option is spessartite garnet. Now you will notice I mentioned it above for a red garnet, but this is not its finest colour. What is its finest colour?
Spessartite at its finest is a pure fanta orange colour. Few other gems even come close to what this gem looks like in that hue. Even spessartite itself tends not to be a pure orange colour. Browns and reds creep in and make the gem look less attractive. As a general rule with any gemstone, not just garnets, the purer the colour – the finer the gem. So what price should you pay for garnets?
The reality is that each has its own set of criteria and in the finest specimens of tsavorite or spessartite you can be paying thousands for one gem. Likewise for demantoid and colour change gems. Reds are the cheapest, though most will not compare to a fine ruby. Red garnets tend to be overly dark though not always. One thing is certain – you will always have a wide range of colour if you are buying a garnet.
Nicholas Cameron is a Gemstone Dealer based in the UK. His travels to Africa and Asia in search of the finest gems for you.
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