Rhodolite Garnet Gemstone
Rhodolite Garnet Gemstone
Attributes
Origin Sources include Burma Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Brazil, China and the United States.
Colour light to dark purplish red through reddish purpleh
Refractive Index 1.760 (+.010, -.020)
Chemical Composition Al2(SiO4)3
Hardness 7 - 7.5
Density 3.84 (+/- .10)
Crystal Structure Cubic

 

Rhodolite is the name used to describe the lovely pinkish, purplish or purple-red garnet which is a mixture of Almandite and Pyrope. This popular garnet shows a wonderful velvety red with a fine purple or raspberry colored undertone. This name was first used in the late nineteenth century to describe the new rhododendron shade of garnet discovered in North Carolina.

Unlike the common red garnets which tend towards a very deep red with a brownish secondary hue, rhodolite is lighter and brighter in color. The best specimens are a rich raspberry that can sometimes resemble the more expensive rubellite tourmaline.

Most gems have a crystalline structure. Crystals have planes of symmetry and are divided into seven symmetry systems. The number of axes, their length, and their angle to each other determine the system to which a crystal belongs.  Garnets are isostructural, meaning that they share the same crystal structure. This leads to similar crystal shapes and properties. Garnets belong to the isometric crystal class, which produces very symmetrical, cube-based crystals. The most common crystal shape for garnets however is the rhombic dodecahedron, a twelve sided

Most garnets are red in color, leading to the erroneous belief that all garnets are red. In fact a few varieties, such as grossular, can have a wide range of colors, and uvarovite is always a bright green.

As a mineral specimen, garnets usually have well shaped and complex crystals and their color and luster can make for a very beautiful addition to a collection.

What makes Rhodolite Garnet gemstones so special?

Peridot Gemstone

Besides its wonderful red colors, Rhodolite Garnet has additional advantages which make it a truly unique and valuable gemstone. There is its hardness of 7 - 7.5, making it suitable for any piece of jewelry.  Additionally these gemstones have a high refractive index, giving them an exceptional brilliance. Even in unfavorable lighting conditionss, well cut Rhodolite garnets will sparkle vividly. 

The refractive index (RI), measured using a refractometer, is an indication of the amount light rays are bent by a mineral.  Birefringence is the difference between the minimum and maximum RI. When birefringence is high, light rays reflect off different parts of the back of a stone causing an apparent doubling of the back facets when viewed through the front facet.

Color

The distinctive color of Rhodolite Garnet is caused by the presence of iron and chromium.  Rhodolite Garnets are not as dark in color as the common Pyrope or Almandine Garnets.  Most Rhodolites seen today are African in origin and are bright, transparent Gems. These are probably the most popular garnet seen in fine jewelry today.

Common shades of Rhodolite include red, purplish red and the popular raspberry rhodolite,  a rich red-purple with bright lavender highlights.

Cut

Rhodolite Garnet are usually cut similar to other colored stones, with ovals, cushions, trillions and emerald cuts being most common. Other popular Rhodolite Garnet shapes include rounds, marquises, briolettes, hearts, cabochons and pears.  The lack of pleochroism means that orientation is not a problem and the equidimensional shape of the rough generally provides good yields from rough to cut.

Treatments

Rhodolite Garnet gemstones, like most garnets, are generally not treated.

Sources

Originally found in the USA, major sources for Rhodolite Garnet Gemstones are Tanzania and North Carolina, USA.  Other sources include Burma (Myanmar), Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and South Africa.

The renowned Umba River Valley in Tanzania is the acclaimed source of the world’s best Rhodolite.
Brazil is producing a dark purplish Rhodolite, sometimes called grape garnet, because of its similarity of colour to concord grape jam.

Mythology

Throughout time, there have been many ancient traditions and legends about the gemstone garnet...
Garnets have been known to Man for thousands of years. Noah, it is said, used a finely cut, glowing garnet within a lantern to help him steer his ark through the dark night.

Many an early explorer and traveler liked to carry a garnet with him, for the garnet was popular as a talisman and protective stone, as it was believed to light up the night and protect its bearer from evil and disaster.

The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word “Garanatus,” meaning “seedlike,” in reference to a pomegranate. This reference makes sense as small garnets look like the bright red seeds you find inside in a pomegranate.

In medieval times, garnets were thought to cure depression, protect against bad dreams, and relieve diseases of the liver, as well as hemorrhages.

Hebrew writers include the garnet as one of the twelve gems in Aaron’s breastplate.

Christian tradition considered the blood-red garnet as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.

The Koran holds that the garnet illuminates the Fourth Heaven of the Moslems.

The Greeks said garnet guarded children from drowning. It was also thought to be potent against poisons.

Garnets were found as beads in a necklace worn by a young man in a grave that dates back to 3000 B.C. This is proof of the hardness and durability of the stone.

Plato had his portrait engraved on a garnet by a Roman engraver.

Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January and the stone that celebrates the 2nd anniversary of marriage.