Mandarin garnet is a type of spessartite garnet gemstone known for its gorgeously rich orange color, reflecting its namesake: the mandarin orange.
Is mandarin garnet real? Yep, mandarin garnet is a natural gemstone — its color is all natural too, making it pretty sought-after.
Are mandarin garnets rare? Mandarin garnets are relatively rare, but the highest-quality specimens are quite rare. Orange is a rare color in garnet anyway, especially orange-red hues.
Ready to learn more about this phenomenal gem described as a “ball of fire” by some? Come along as we fill you in on all of mandarin garnet’s properties, prices, history, benefits, and more!
Mandarin garnet is a semi-precious gemstone with vibrant orange coloring. It may be called “Fanta garnet” or "Namibian spessartite.”
Plus, mandarin garnet jewelry has good wearability, making it the perfect gift for any of these celebrations.
Spessartites are manganese aluminum silicates, and their formula may be written as Mn3Al2Si3O12 or Mn3Al2(SiO4)3. The formula for mandarin garnets may also be written as Mn2+3Al2(SiO4)3.
From analysis done by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) on Namibian mandarin garnets, their specimen ranges were:
84 to 86 percent spessartite
12 to 15 percent pyrope
1 to 1.5 percent grossular
0 to 1.5 percent almandine
A smaller amount of material analyzed by GIA prior to the analysis referenced above averaged at 85 percent spessartite, 12.5 percent pyrope, and 2.5 percent grossular. Since pyrope and grossular are colorless when pure, this explained the more pure orange color, as manganese was the only coloring element in the stones.
Value-wise, mandarin garnet is the most valuable spessartite variety with the highest spessartite content. Other varieties include kashmirine and Malaya (or Malaia) garnets, which is a pyrope-spessartite mixture.
Here are mandarin garnet’s mineral properties listed:
Mohs hardness: 7-7.5
Color: Orange, red-orange, yellow-orange, brownish-orange
Crystal structure: Isometric/cubic
Luster: Vitreous (glassy), resinous, or sub-adamantine
Transparency: Transparent to translucent
Refractive index: 1.789-1.797
Dispersion: 0.027 (moderate)
Moving away from mineralogy, what does the mandarin garnet stone mean?
Mandarin garnet symbolizes success, harmony, and creativity. It also represents the persistent ebbs and flows of life’s changes, bringing transformative energies.
Garnets overall symbolize passion, understanding, and loyalty, along with the power of bravery and positivity.
Spessartite garnets were discovered in 1797 but didn’t see much popularity (beyond collectors) until mandarin garnets came along almost 200 years later.
The first mandarin garnets were found in Namibia in 1992. Colgem Ltd. of Ramat Gan, Israel, debuted the gems at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in Arizona, USA, in 1993.
Chief Sales Manager of Colgem Ltd., Israel Z. Eliezri, said the first trade name for the Namibian spessartites was “Hollandine.” Another early trade name was “Kunene spessartine.” Both were soon replaced with “mandarin garnet.”
Unfortunately, the two Namibian deposits were depleted by 1998.
Luckily, additional deposits of mandarin garnets have popped up since!
The first additional deposit was Nigeria in 1998, where orange garnets with a spessartite content of around 95 percent started being produced.
In 2007, Tanzania started producing orange spessartite that also had a similar composition to Namibian mandarin garnets at 77.5 percent spessartite, 17.9 percent pyrope, and 4.6 percent grossular.
We should note that the name “mandarin garnet” doesn’t have an official definition besides being an orange spessartite, usually bright orange. Originally, the term only applied to bright orange spessartite garnets from Namibia. But since other locales have popped up, some have used “mandarin garnet” to describe any orange spessartites, regardless of source.
Shifting back to the metaphysical side, what are the healing properties of mandarin garnet?
Physically, mandarin garnet benefits are said to include treating:
Emotionally, mandarin garnet is believed to help you:
Make wiser decisions, especially in leadership roles
Boost your self-confidence
Get comfortable being vulnerable
Release feelings of anger, envy, or bitterness
Deal with stressful life transitions
Chakra healing is a form of energy healing that involves opening or balancing specific energy centers (chakras) along the body to resolve negative symptoms associated with a “blockage” of that energy center.
Mandarin garnets are great chakra stones for the sacral chakra. The sacral chakra is located just below the navel. This is where your physical self (established in the root chakra) starts interacting emotionally with the world to establish your identity.
A blocked sacral chakra can lead to imbalanced emotional attachments, either through avoidance or codependency. Other signs of blockage include overindulgence, shame, or volatile tempers.
Once the chakra is balanced again, you’ll be able to respect your feelings without being controlled by them. Plus, your emotions can flow freely without shame, allowing you to explore your desires.
Outside of healing, are mandarin garnets valuable? Definitely, but the exact value depends on their quality.
Mandarin garnet value mostly depends on color and carat weight, but cut and clarity also play a role. Part of mandarin garnet’s desirability is its lack of gemstone treatments.
The best mandarin garnet color is pure, rich orange with high saturation and even coloring throughout. The presence of iron (sometimes from andradite) lends brown tones, which decrease value.
The best mandarin garnets are faceted, with virtually any shape possible. A great cut maximizes the crystal’s bright color, brilliance, and dispersion — often an oval cut with brilliant or step facets.
Lower-quality material may be cut into cabochons. Mandarin garnet can also be carved.
Possible inclusions in mandarin garnets include:
Clear quartz grains
Colorless tirodite fibers
Black ilmenite, hematite, and senaite in anhedral shapes or tiny spots
Round and angular crystals
The fewer visible inclusions, the higher the value.
Faceted mandarin garnets over 5 carats are rare and over 10 carats are extremely rare. One exceptionally large mandarin garnet is a faceted 39.35-carat gem displayed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Smaller mandarin garnet gems can be fairly inexpensive, but even a 1-carat mandarin garnet may be significantly pricier than a 0.5-carat option.
Spessartites, like other garnets, usually form inside aluminum-rich sedimentary rocks undergoing metamorphism. The process often happens at convergent tectonic plates and involves heat and pressure changing the composition of minerals inside, creating new minerals like garnet.
Mandarin garnet is found in schist or gneiss rocks, like the magnesium-rich gneisses in Namibia.
Currently, the only known sources of mandarin garnet are Namibia (though the mine is currently closed), Tanzania, and Nigeria.
Some spessartites from Madagascar and California, USA, have a similarly pure orange color, though.
How much is a mandarin garnet stone worth? Mandarin garnet prices range from as little as $2.50 per carat to as high as $1,200 per carat.
High-quality, faceted mandarin garnets (eye-clean, pure orange color) are usually around $300 per carat. Overall, faceted mandarin garnets generally range from $200 to $1,200 per carat.
Exceptional, huge (10+ carats) faceted mandarin garnet price per carat can be $850 to nearly $2,800 per carat.
Mandarin garnet cabochons start around $4 and can reach over $6,000 when huge (35+ carats). Most are around $5 to $20.
If these are out of your price range, more affordable orange garnets to consider are hessonite (typically darker or browner) and Malaya garnets (more pinkish and varied).
You can clean mandarin garnets with mild soap, warm water, and a soft toothbrush.
Keep it away from steamers, acids, or heat. Store separately from other gems.
You don’t have to speak Mandarin to appreciate the beauty and charm of mandarin garnets. With bright sparkle, positivity, and a stunningly natural orange hue, what’s not to love?
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