Melanite Gemstone: Properties, Meanings, Value & More

melanite gemstoneMelanite is a dark-colored garnet gemstone variety in the andradite family. If you’ve ever wondered: Can garnet be black? The answer is yes, it’s melanite!

While most garnets are known for displaying hues in the red to purple spectrum, garnets can actually be virtually any color! Colorless, green, and orangish-pink are the rarest.

That said, nothing says sophistication and elegance like a black garnet. Today, you’ll learn everything you need to know about melanite garnets, from their symbolism and healing properties to their sources and history!

melanite gemstone

What Is Melanite Garnet?

Melanite is a glossy, sophisticated semi-precious gemstone in the complex and diverse garnet family. Like all garnets, melanite serves as a birthstone for January and the traditional 2nd wedding anniversary gemstone.

This dark garnet may be called “titanian andradite” or historically, “pyreneite.” However, some similarly named minerals may be mixed up with melanite, like:

  • Melonite — An opaque, metallic nickel telluride mineral with white, reddish, or brown coloring.

  • Melenite — Honey-colored picric acid crystalline material used for dyes and explosives

  • Chloromelanite — Usually refers to a black or deep green jadeite variety

Though garnets are astrologically connected to Capricorn and Aquarius signs, melanite is an alternative Scorpio zodiac stone. It can also serve as a planetary star stone for Saturn.

Melanite Specifications & Characteristics

Melanite is in the andradite family, the rarest species of garnets. Andradite joins the grossular and uvarovite species in having calcium as their first element. The other andradite garnets besides melanite are bright green demantoid and yellow topazolite.

The general formula for andradites is Ca3Fe2Si3O12 or Ca3Fe2(SiO4)3. Melanite stands out for its change from ferrous iron (Fe2) to ferric iron (Fe3) and its titanium oxide content, expressed in its formula as Ca3(Fe3+,Ti)2(SiO4)3. 

While most melanite stones are only 1 to 5 percent titanium oxide, the impurity can sometimes make up 11.5 percent of the stone. 

You’ll often see melanite minerals forming trapezohedral or dodecahedral crystals. On rare occasions, melanite can even form druzy! Many crystal clusters have a dark, glassy or near-diamond luster. 

Although andradite garnets are isotropic (one refractive index, not two), the birefringence indicative of allotropic gems sometimes appears anomalously. Melanite’s birefringence is 1.89. However, melanite isn’t pleochroic (showing different colors from different angles) or fluorescent. 

The list below covers the remaining melanite garnet properties:

  • Mineral family: Andradite garnet

  • Mohs hardness: 6.5-7

  • Color: Black, dark brown, very dark red

  • Crystal structure: Isometric/Cubic

  • Luster: Sub-adamantine to vitreous (glassy)

  • Transparency: Translucent to opaque

  • Refractive index: 1.855 to 1.895 (over-the-limit)

  • Density: 3.7 to 4.1 (usually around 3.9)

  • Cleavage: None

  • Fracture: Conchoidal

  • Streak: White

Melanite vs. Schorlomite

Melanite isn’t the only dark-colored garnet out there. Other examples are brownish-red hessonite, reddish-brown spessartite, and dark reddish-black star garnet. The most similar variety to melanite, however, is schorlomite.

Schorlomite is another garnet-supergroup gemstone rich in ferric iron and titanium. It can be brown, reddish-brown, gray, or black. The name “schorlomite” comes from its resemblance to schorl, or black tourmaline.

Some schorlomite stones form a series with andradite. Many stones labeled “schorlomite” on the market today are actually andradite. The most obvious visual difference is schorlomite’s submetallic luster. 

You know the mineral basics, now let’s get into melanite’s mystical and historical side!

melanite black garnet crystals

Melanite Gemstone Meaning & History

All garnets symbolize friendship, love, and passion. Melanite individually symbolizes renewal, strength, and protection. Many associate melanite’s spiritual meaning with bravery, empowerment, and safety.

Of course, all black stones have a myriad of meanings, many of which differ culturally. Among these, melanite connects to power, mystery, and prestige.

The titanium content unique to melanite also ties to the crystal to resilience and stability. Since titanium was named after the mythological Titans, the sons of the Greek Mother Earth figure Gaia, this lore is also attached to melanite. 


Garnets have been widely used and beloved for centuries across numerous cultures. 

From necklaces in ancient Egyptian tombs to Biblical warriors donning the gem for battle, the stone has maintained significance as a powerful talisman (especially for protection). However, most of the garnets of old are of the common almandine species.

Though melanite’s first discovery is uncertain, it got its name from renowned German geologist, Abraham Gottlob Werner. Werner named it in 1799 after the Greek melanos, meaning “black” which is… pretty self-explanatory, right? 

In the early 1800s, Werner and his student C.A.S. Hoffman described a grayish-black garnet from the Pyrenees mountain range as “pyreneite.” Scottish chemist Andrew Ure, founder of the Garnet Hill observatory, was the first to record the term “pyreneite.” This term is now considered a synonym for melanite.

Royalty throughout the ages has been known to adorn themselves in garnet, from Egyptian pharaohs to Russian empresses to Queen Victoria. Melanite garnet jewelry gained popularity during the Victorian Era (1837-1901), when it became prominent for mourning.

Mourning jewelry in the Victorian Era used many dark stones like melanite, particularly jet and black onyx. Though mourning attire and accessories were standard in Victorian England, the queen made the practice more elegant and sentimental. 

Many mourning pieces had compartments to keep a lock of hair in or engravings of a loved one’s name, birthday, and death date. Melanite garnet mourning jewelry was also present among Russian royals. 

Feeling bummed out? Don’t worry, there are plenty of melanite healing powers for brightening your spirit!

melanite garnet healing crystal

Melanite Garnet Healing Properties

Like all gemstones and all garnets, melanite’s coloring and internal vibrations make it a powerful healing stone. Since it’s a black gemstone, melanite inherently represents protection, grounding, and mysticism.

Melanite also joins other brown and black gems in functioning as a chakra stone for the foundational root (or base) chakra. These crystals balance the chakra, bringing you a sense of belonging and security. 

How do the melanite garnet metaphysical properties help physically and emotionally?

Physical Healing

Melanite is believed to increase stamina, longevity, and overall physical wellbeing. Crystal healers use it for aiding mobility or menstruation issues. 

Other issues melanite is purported to treat include bronchitis and anemia. 

Emotional Healing

Emotionally, melanite is said to bring one emotional strength, resilience, and acceptance. If you’re starting a mindfulness or meditation practice, this crystal is a great tool for balancing and grounding your energies. 

Crystal healers also recommend melanite for increasing creativity and zest for life. 

Balancing Energy

Feng Shui is the ancient art of balancing energy flow through the thoughtful arrangement of your surroundings. Black stones like melanite are part of the water element, used in moderation to bring calm and grounding. 

Ready to find a melanite crystal for your space? Next, we’ll tell you what factors to look for so you can ensure you get the best deal!

melanite garnet gemstone cabochon

Melanite Gemstone Properties

Though seen far less than other garnets in the gemstone world, melanite is still prevalent in jewelry and ornamental items. Determining its value comes down to its color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. 


What is the color of melanite? We’ve said “black” so far, but that’s not entirely accurate. Besides black, melanite can also be dark brown or very deep red. 

Sometimes, dark brown melanites are sold as “chocolate melanite garnet.” You may also see peeks of green or yellow, sometimes even entirely yellow-brown melanite. 

Titanium impurities give melanite its color by replacing part of the iron in the crystal structure. This may occur through a chemical process called intervalence charge transfer.


For a long time, melanite was hardly ever faceted. However, the rise of black diamond popularity also led to other black gems gaining prominence, so faceted melanite became more common. 

Common faceted cuts for melanite include cushion, emerald, and trillion shapes.

In fact, melanite cabochons are often faceted as well to highlight the glassy shine or high dispersion (colorful sparkle) in slightly lighter-hued gems.  


All andradite garnets have a Type II colored gemstone clarity grade, meaning some visible inclusions are expected.

Common inclusions in andradite include hollow cylinders, fingerprints, and arched fibers. Because andradite is generally opaque, making inclusions difficult to see, its clarity isn’t as significant to its value as other factors.

Inclusions are outside minerals or materials that sneak in during formation, but how does melanite form anyway?

melanite garnet rough with epidote

Melanite Formation & Sources

Melanite and other andradite garnets form in environments where metamorphic rock forms. Most geologists believe andradites form when siliceous limestones transform due to heat (from intruding magma) and/or pressure (from tectonic plates shifting).

What type of rock is andradite found in? Many andradites occur in altered limestones, schists, and serpentine rocks. However, melanite is often found in alkaline igneous rocks, particularly nepheline syenites. 

Now, where does melanite garnet come from?

Mining Locations

Melanite comes from quite a few locales, but three are significant for facetable crystals: Mali, Mexico, and California (USA). The California mine is also famous for being the only source of gem-quality benitoite.

Melanite from Connecticut, USA, is also significant quality-wise, though not found in abundance at this location. 

Other notable melanite sources are:

  • Azerbaijan

  • Brazil

  • Canada

  • Ecuador

  • France

  • Germany

  • India

  • Italy

  • Morocco

  • Russia

  • Sri Lanka

  • USA (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, New York)

One fascinating and unique place melanite was found is the Pacific Ocean! 

Scientists involved in the Deep Sea Drilling Project of 1968-1983 were surprised to find melanite (along with fassaite and augite) inside Hole 504B, the deepest hole drilled. The hole was off the Ecuador coast. 

With the sources covered, let’s get into the bigger buyer questions: What should you expect for this black garnet stone’s price?

melanite garnet gemstone ring

Melanite Garnet Price & Value

Good news: Melanite garnet is relatively inexpensive! In fact, many jewelers use it as a more affordable alternative to black spinel or sapphire. It’s also a common substitute for the less pricey jet or black onyx, as melanite is more brilliant.

Faceted melanite garnet gemstones vary broadly in price, though, starting around $15 per carat and reaching about $180 per carat. Cabochons are much lower, typically around $10 per carat. 

Raw melanite crystals range from $11 to $45, though some reach $245. Rough crystal specimens are generally $13 to $60, with larger or unique specimens around $100-$250. 

A lot of melanite jewelry uses it as an accent stone, meaning prices will vary based on the other gems used. Plus, many options are antique, which are usually pricier. For instance, most antique melanite rings are upwards of $600.

Modern melanite rings can range from $20 to upwards of $230. Beaded bracelets are around $100, while pendants range from $30-$245. Earrings are generally cheaper, around $20-$30 with gems like carnelian or chalcedony incorporated.

Lastly, let’s go over caring for your gemstone!

Melanite Care and Maintenance

Ready for more good news? All andradite garnets are great for jewelry wear, even in more vulnerable options like a melanite garnet ring. You can still be extra safe by opting for protective settings, as melanite isn’t as hard as other garnets. 

It’s important to keep melanite away from extreme heat, though normal levels of heat are generally safe. Don’t clean the stone with ultrasonic cleaners, but rather with the standard mild soap, warm water, and soft toothbrush. 

Looking for Gemstones like Melanite?

As any fashion expert will tell you, you can’t go wrong with black. Black melanite garnets not only offer a sophisticated look, but also offer you titanium-level strength and stability for handling any curve-ball life throws at you. Plus, you’ll never have to worry if your jewels match your outfit… they always will! 

Shop for gemstones today!

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