Colorful Garnet Gemstones To Suit Everyone's Taste

Mint green grossular garnetYou might have heard about the gemstone known as Garnet, but did you know that Garnet is actually the name given to a group of different minerals that all share a common piece. Think about Garnet as a clan or a family. Each one is unique and individual, but they all belong to the same clan and they all share the same ‘DNA’.

It is this amazing diversity that gives rise to many different forms of Garnet in all sorts of different colors. There is a colorless Garnet (super rare), there is green Garnet (Tsavorite Garnet or Grossular Garnet), Purple garnet (commonly known as Rhodolite Garnet) and even a very rare blue garnet.

Garnets Share the Same Crystal Structure

In a nut shell, all Garnets share the same CRYSTAL STRUCTURE but they contain slightly modified elements.

Take for example Almandine Garnet and Spessartite Garnet.

I will explain more about the complexity of the Garnet family later on.

What Type of Garnet Is What Color?

The beauty of Garnet is that each type of garnet always comes in only one color. What I mean by this is that Tsavorite garnet is always Green, Rhodolite Garnet always has a purple hue and Spessartite garnet always has an orange color.

Almandite Garnet

Color: Red

Colour Change Garnet

Color: The color shifts from one color to another. Some gems can change from green to pink

Interesting Fact: his gemstone will change color depending on what light it is viewed in. When descriving the two colors they are usually given as incandescent light (the old style light bulb with a yellow filament) and florescent light.

Demantoid Garnet

Color: Greensih / Yellow.

Interesting fact: This type of Garnet has dispersion (the fire seen in Diamonds). Good quality Demantoid will sparkle like no other gemstone because of this property. It is also one of the few gemstones where an inclusion can actually increase its value.

Grossular Garnet

Color: Grossular Garnet can be green, yellow or orange in color.

Hessonite Garnet

Color: Cinamon to orange in color.

Interesting fact: Hessonite has a special property that makes the gemstone look oily. Some people refer to it as the ‘whiskey in water’ look. The wavy appearance can be seen in gemstones like the one below.

hessonite garnet showing whisky in water effect

Imperial Garnet

Color: This type of Garnet will show some color shift. Usually from orange to pink

Malaya Garnet

Color: These are closely related to the Imperial Garnet. They come in a very beautiful orange color and can also exhibit color shifting properties.

Mali Garnet

Color: Yellow to Orange

Rhodolite Garnet

Color: Purple. Although not always pure purple, Rhodolite Garnet must show some purple hue.

Spessartite Garnet

Color: Orange

Interesting fact: The most expensive and highly prized Spessartite garnet is the Mandarin garnet.

Tsavorite Garnet

Color: Green

Umbalite Garnet

Color: Purple

Complexity of the Garnet Family

Now that we know what colors the Garnets can come in let’s have a closer look at how they are related and how the different colors of Garnets come to be.

In the Garnet family there are 15 separate minerals but only 6 produce gemstone grade material so we will concentrate on them. The 6 minerals are then further grouped into two sub categories. The Pyralspites (Garnet varieties Pyrope, Almandine, Spessartite) and the Ugrandites (Garnet varieties Uvarovite, Grossular, Andradit).

The Pyralspites all share the same crystal structure but the elements are slightly different.

  • Pyrope = magnesium aluminum silicate
  • Almandine = iron aluminum silicate
  • Spessartite = manganese aluminum silicate

Ugrandites also have a slightly different chemical make up.

  • Uvarovite = calcium chromium silicate
  • Grossular = calcium aluminum silicate
  • Andradite = calcium iron silicate

You can see from the above elements that all of garnets look similar however they all have one element different in the chemical structure. So you can see from above that we are talking about 6 minerals only, but previously we have mentioned many more colors than 6.

This is here the beauty of Garnet comes in. You see each mineral is not monogamous. What I mean by that is that it is very rare to find pure Pyrope or pure Spessartite in nature. When these minerals are created they tend to mix into hybrids creating an incredible number of different gemstones.

For example, Rhodolite Garnet is actually a mixture of Pyrope and Almandine. Even though both of these minerals are red in their pure form, they create a beautiful purple gemstone when they mix together.

The easiest way to explain how the different mixtures of Garnets can create different colors lets look at the diagrams below. Note: Pyralspites and Ugrandites generally do not mix together.

pyralspites garnet family


These diagrams show how an almost infinite combination of colored Garnets exist in nature. There really is a Garnet to suit everyone’s color taste and budget. 


Was this article helpful?

9 people found this article helpful



Thank you so much for the great way that you explained the garnet. It is so much more complicated than I ever expected. Never knew of all the different types and combinations. It was very interesting.

19th Mar 2018

Very helpful, brings more clarity to the dizzying array of garnets on the market. Thanks!

18th Feb 2016

Very helpful, brings more clarity to the dizzying array of garnets on the market. Thanks!

18th Feb 2016

Very good article, thanks.  Phil / Gemstar

10th Dec 2015
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