Almandine is a deep red or magenta to brownish-black garnet gemstone variety used and adored since ancient times. It’s arguably the most well-known garnet alongside pyrope.
Is almandine rare or common? Almandine garnets are very common — the most common garnet variety, in fact. That said, gem-quality almandine crystals make up a small portion of all almandine mined. Since they’re so abundant, though, they make beautiful and affordable gems!
So, what’s the almandine garnet price range? And what makes this gem special? We’ll answer all that and more in this almandine garnet gemstone guide.
Almandine garnet is a semi-precious gemstone that serves as the traditional January birthstone. It’s also a lucky zodiac stone for Capricorn and Aquarius and the traditional 2nd wedding anniversary gemstone. If you live in Connecticut, USA, almandine garnet is your official state gemstone!
In the UK, almandine may be called “almandite.” Other alternative names include:
The nickname “carbuncle” has historical relevance we’ll cover more later, but the name “almandine ruby” is a misnomer, as garnets and rubies are separate gems.
Outside of gorgeous gems, almandine also has many industrial uses.
Industrial-grade garnets produced for abrasives may be called “rock garnet.” Some unexpected applications for abrasive garnet are woodworking and water filtration.
Additionally, garnets can help geologists study the temperatures and pressures that rocks form under in a field called geothermobarometry. They can similarly indicate geological timelines when used as a geochronometer or thermochronometer.
Almandine is in the pyralspite garnet series along with pyrope and spessartite. The pyralspite group is aluminum-rich, contrasting the calcium-rich ugrandite series — which includes uvarovite, grossular, and andradite.
As an iron aluminum silicate, almandine’s chemical formula is Fe3Al2Si3O12 or Fe3Al2(SiO4)3. To identify almandine, its absorption spectrum is key. Absorption spectrum describes which colors do and don’t pass through when white light is shone into the gem.
With a spectroscope, you’ll see three strong absorption bands in almandines (or almandine-dominant garnets): a strong one that’s 200 Å wide at 5760 and two more strong ones at 5260 and 5050.
Here are all of almandine’s properties:
Mohs hardness: 7-7.5
Color: Deep red, violet-red, reddish-brown, brownish-black, black; Rarely purple or pink; Sometimes black and red
Crystal structure: Isometric/Cubic
Luster: Vitreous, greasy, or resinous - rough; Vitreous to sub-adamantine - polished
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
Refractive index: 1.75-1.83
Density: 3.93-4.30 (star garnet can reach 4.76)
Fracture: Conchoidal to uneven
Optical effects: Asterism; Very rarely color-change
Like most garnets, and pyrope especially, almandine is almost never pure; you’ll usually find it mixed with pyrope or spessartite. Some varieties containing almandine include:
Mozambique garnets are red with brown and orange undertones. Discovered in Mozambique, Africa, these are almandine and pyrope.
Rhodolite is a commonly purplish-red blend of almandine and pyrope. It can also be pale rose-red, violet, or purple shades. Spessartite added means paler hues. Iron and magnesium impurities create deep purple “grape garnet” rhodolites.
Bright magenta-rose Tanzanian rhodolites with pale pink flashes combine all three pyralspites. These are called “Umbalite garnets.”
The most valuable rhodolites are bright purple, while redder hues are less valuable.
Malaya (or Malaia) garnet is usually a pyrope-spessartite, but it can also contain almandine and grossular garnet. These are pink, salmon, orange, or red.
All garnets can be color-changing, though this is rare in almandines. One is the almandine-grossular-spessartite mixture, displaying greenish-yellow or brown hues shifting to purplish-red.
Other color-changing almandines include:
Idaho: Pyrope-almandine, red to purple-red
Norway: Pyrope-almandine, violet-red to blue-green or violet to wine-red
Star garnets are a rare variety displaying a 4-or 6-rayed light reflection called asterism. These stones are predominantly from Idaho, USA, and serve as the state gemstone.
The almandine crystal symbolizes deep love, passion, and desire. Individually, the stone also represents courage, achievement, and protection. Persian legends say almandines protect against natural disasters, indicating incoming danger by becoming paler.
Almandine garnets have been known for centuries. The almandine name comes from a mistaken interpretation of alabandicus, given by Roman scholar Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD. Alabanda was an Asia Minor town where almandines came from.
These cabochons were historically called “carbuncles,” Latin for “live coal” because the darker red stones resembled charcoal on fire. You may see “carbuncle” for vintage jewelry items.
The oldest evidence currently available reveals ancient Egyptian uses of almandine dating to 3,500 BC.
Red garnets like almandine sat among the most popular gems during Late Antiquity, from 4th-6th century AD. One popular use was decorative metalwork inlay called cloisonné.
One notable artifact is the Winfarthing pendant, a 7th-century brooch found in Norfolk, England, in 2014. The gold brooch contained hundreds of tiny almandine gems.
Garnet jewelry saw its highest popularity during the Victorian Era, from 1837 to 1901. Before this time, only royalty, nobles, and clergy could afford gems like garnets. The Industrial Revolution made garnets accessible to the masses.
However, wide accessibility lowered garnet’s popularity, as it became less associated with status. Luckily, that also meant more affordable prices!
In 1967, Idaho, USA, named star garnet their state gem. Similarly, Connecticut, USA, named almandine garnet the state’s official gemstone in 1977.
Stronger purple coloring in almandine brings the purple gemstone benefits of spiritual awakening and wisdom.
Purported physical benefits of almandine include increasing:
Strength & endurance
Fertility & libido
Immune system function
Emotional almandine garnet benefits are said to boost feelings of:
Apart from its healing powers, is almandine garnet valuable? It depends on its properties.
Almandine is graded based on the standard categories of color, cut, clarity, carat weight, and treatments.
The color of almandine ranges from classic deep reds and purplish-reds to brownish hues. The iron content is responsible for some of the coloring, but that iron can also be substituted by manganese (from spessartite) and magnesium, leading to opaque, browner stones.
Classic red hues are generally most valuable, particularly in large, transparent stones as larger sizes are usually too dark. Rhodolite and Malaya garnets with good coloring have the highest prices.
Though cabochons (often called “carbuncles”) are slightly less common, the star garnet variety must be cut en cabochon to display its asterism. These can be quite valuable, as star garnets are notoriously tricky to cut correctly.
Clarity describes the extent of visible inclusions in a stone. Almandines usually have a Type I colored gemstone clarity grade, meaning little to no eye-visible inclusions. Pyrope-almandine mixtures may be Type II, with some visible inclusions.
That said, some possible inclusions in almandine stones are:
Needles (hornblende, rutile, augite)
Dense rods (hornblende)
Crystals with “halos” from natural irradiation (zircon), most from Sri Lanka
While these inclusions generally lower value, certain fibrous inclusions of amphibole or pyroxene minerals that cause asterism increase value.
Almandine crystals vary in size, but smaller crystals show better coloring. When formed in a matrix that becomes weathered, it can separate into well-formed, often large crystals. That said, broken crystals from some locales may only yield gems under 2 carats.
Most almandine gems won’t significantly change in price-per-carat based on their size.
The exceptions are rhodolite — which increases in rate based on whether it’s under 1 carat, under 10 carats, or over 10 carats — and Malaya — which increases in rate for under 1 carat, under 5 carats, and over 5 carats.
Currently, the largest almandine is 174 carats!
While uncommon, some almandines may be treated. Usually, almandine-spessartite or pyrope-almandine garnets are heated to create a metallic coating, sometimes of hematite. The latter were historically called “Proteus garnets.”
The majority of synthetic almandines (which are less valuable) are created through hydrothermal growth. You can identify these based on the presence of seed plates.
Like most garnets, almandine usually forms when aluminum-rich, sedimentary rocks undergo metamorphic changes from pressure and heat. These conditions alter the minerals inside into garnet.
You’ll find almandine in metamorphic rocks like mica-rich garnet schists, where it may form in a matrix with the rock. They’re also found in alluvial deposits and igneous rocks.
New York, USA contains the world’s largest garnet mine, producing roughly 90 percent of the world’s industrial garnet. Industrial “rock garnet” also comes from China and India.
For gem-quality almandine, India and Brazil are top producers. Other sources include:
USA (Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota)
The main almandine variety sources are:
Malaya: Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania
Rhodolite: Brazil, India, North Carolina (USA), Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand
Mozambique: Mozambique (shocker)
Large almandines are known from Madagascar and Sri Lanka.
Because almandine is the most common garnet, most are affordable. The only exceptions are the rare rhodolite and Malaya garnets.
First, let’s look at almandine garnet price-per-carat ranges that don’t change by size. “Top color” almandines refer to those with moderately strong saturation, medium-dark tone, and these colors: orange-red, red, purplish-red, reddish-purple.
Top Color: $1-$30 per carat
Mozambique: $5-$35 per carat
Red to purple almandine cabochons are also $1-$20 per carat, regardless of size.
The faceted gem prices by size for rhodolite are:
0.5 to 1 carat: $20-$100 per carat
1 to 10 carats: $20-$150 per carat
Over 10 carats: $150-$300 per carat
Now, the faceted prices for Malaya garnets:
0.5 to 1 carat: $30-$60 per carat
1 to 5 carats: $150-$200 per carat
Over 5 carats: $300-$3,000 per carat
Mozambique garnet cabochons are always $5-$7 per carat. The ranges for rhodolite cabochons are $4-$6 per carat under 1 ct, $5-$30 per carat when 1-10 cts, and up to $40 per carat when over 10 cts.
Almandine carvings are also pricier, starting at $450 and reaching $84,500.
Gem-quality raw almandine crystals are generally $0.02-$0.08 per carat.
Luckily, gemstone care for almandine is easy! No cleavage and good hardness makes this stone durable enough for daily wear. You may opt for protective settings in a more vulnerable almandine garnet ring to prevent scratches, though.
You can clean almandine gently with mild soap, warm water, and a soft toothbrush. Don’t use mechanical or steam cleaners.
Almandines with inclusions are more sensitive to extreme heat. Store the gem in a cool, dry place away from other stones.
Almandine is perfect for love in every form — attracting romance, strengthening friendship, and encouraging self-love. With a gorgeous and affordable gem like almandine, you’re set for joy, passion, and love!
Was this article helpful?1 person found this article helpful