Green-Eyed Monster

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Actually, the green-eyed monster pretty perfectly describes my feelings whenever I see a piece of tsavorite garnet, whether it’s in jewellery or not. It’s my favourite green stone and I’m sorry, for my money, it beats emerald into a cocked hat. It’s bright green, extremely brilliant and unlike emerald, it’s not routinely treated. Tsavorite garnet, in case you don’t know is the transparent lime-green to emerald green variety of grossular garnet, and actually, the colour is due to the same minerals that colour emeralds – chromium or vanadium.  A relative newcomer, it was discovered in the 1960s and is mined in Kenya and Tanzania. It’s hard to find in large sizes, in fact the finest emerald green colour rarely occurs in crystals larger than 2 carats, and so larger stones are therefore a great deal more expensive. Smaller stones are not too expensive, however, and in fact it works really well in pave settings as it is so brilliant.

For centuries, garnet has been thought of as a travellers stone; according to legend Noah’s ark was supposed to have a garnet lantern to help with navigation. In particular, garnet is supposed to promote strength, vitality and positivity, so you really can’t go wrong! We have tsavorite garnet rose cuts in small sizes – 2mm, 3mm and 4mm, starting from $4.25 for a 2mm stone, and I will be listing a few 5mm stones in the next few days. You can browse the collection by clicking here.

Below from top are Ileana Makri’s Angry Tear Studs with diamonds, sapphires and tsavorites, and Pernille Lauridsen’s Gold and Tsavorite Ring

Ileana Makri Angry Tear Stud in 18k Gold with Diamonds, Sapphires and Tsavorites, $4540 USD
Ileana Makri Angry Tear Stud in 18k Gold with Diamonds, Sapphires and Tsavorites, $4540 USD
Pernille Lauridsen Wailani Gold and Tsavorite Ring, $595
Pernille Lauridsen Wailani Gold and Tsavorite Ring, $595

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Berry Nice

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This is one of my favourite stones, and the most valuable of the red garnets. Rhodolite garnet has a colour range between pinkish red and deep raspberry pink and it’s not just a colour call that distinguishes it from other red garnets; it is to do with its composition. It’s a mixture of pyrope and almandine garnets, with its own distinctive refractive index, and it tends to come up a bit cleaner than almandine. Although its plentiful and reasonably priced, garnet does generally have a high specific gravity – what does this mean? It means that it’s dense and stones are relatively heavy for their size.

One of the things that surprised me about garnet when I was doing my Gem ID course, is how sparkly they are. I suppose, like alot of people, I used to underrate garnet a bit, and it was only when I was looking closely at it that I saw how special it was, how surprisingly sparkly. At their best, the colour can rival tourmaline or even ruby or spinel and they work very well with a number of other stones. Rhodolite got its name from the Greek word ‘rhodon’ which means ‘rose’ and its very apt. My mum is a January birthday and over the years, she has been inundated with lots of garnet jewelry – some of it not all that nice, it has to be said, but you know, when you’re 12 your budget is a bit limited! A few years ago I upgraded her to a pair of rhodolite and 18k gold earrings, and even she was surprised that garnet came in such a rich purply-red. Check out the versatility, clockwise from left below, Sarah Hendler Rhodolite and Sapphire Ring in 18k gold, Tessa Packard Puzzle Earrings in Rhodolite and Gold Vermeil, Art Masters’ Rhodolite and Black 14k Gold Mens’ Engagement Ring, Jewelry by Johan’s Rhodolite, Dinosaur Bone and Purple Heart Wood Ring in 14k Gold, Master Goldcraft’s perfectly simple but beautiful Rhodolite and 18k Gold Ring, and the very pretty and unusual Rhodolite and Sterling Silver Mermaid Ring by Peanut Gallery Jewels

We have a large selection of rhodolites at Joopy Gems; to browse our collection, click here.

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Joopy Gems Birthstones

Which Stone are You?

Joopy Gems Birthstones

I’m always getting asked about birthstones, and so I finally thought it would make sense to make a section on my website for them. I started off quite ambitiously trying to include every system I could find, but that quickly got a bit complicated and, well, large. So I’ve stuck to modern British and USA systems. There’s a huge choice for every month and I’m looking to boost my selection of precious stones this year, so look out April, May, July and September birthdays! You can browse the selection in my new ‘Shop by Birthstone’ section.

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Almandine Garnet 6x4mm Rose Cut Round Cabochon

Not Your Grandmother’s Jewellery

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What could I be talking about except garnet! You know what I mean; dull, rusty red stones set in gold-plated filligree. Nope. It’s just not fair. Garnet is one of the most exciting and varied of gemstones. It’s got a very wide colour-palette and price-wise it varies from the highly reasonable almandine to tsavorite at the top-end. It is also the birthstone for January.

Garnet has particular gemmological properties that make it reasonably straightforward to cut – it is what is known as singly refractive so what this means in real terms is that it is not at all pleochroic and therefore cutters don’t have to worry about what angle they are cutting it to make sure they are getting top colour. Many varieties also have a relatively high refractive index. What does this mean? Well, it is a measure of what happens when light hits a stone – a high index means that much of the light is reflected back to your eye; a low index means that much of the light passes right through. In real terms, stones with higher refractive indices are more sparkly. With the darker stones it’s not so obvious, but the sparkle on some tsavorites is simply amazing. See below and bottom for some examples of seriously stylish garnet jewellery.

Left to right: Ananda Khalsa Garnet Stud Earrings with Two 22k Dots, $440, David J Thomas Tsavorite Garnet and 18k Gold Ring, Coffin & Trout Spessartite Garnet, Rubellite & 18K Gold Pendant

Colour and Varieties

Red is the best-known colour of garnet, and the type that most people think of when they think of garnets is almandine. This commonly comes up very dark, what we call ‘closed’, and especially in larger sizes; however, it can be the most beautiful shade of deep blood-red. I have some almandine pears which just make me think of Sleeping Beauty every time I see them!  In fact, the name ‘garnet’ comes from the Latin word ‘granatum’ which means ‘dark red’. Pyrope garnet is also red; you see it more rarely and it often has a slightly pinker note to it – it lacks the rustiness you can sometimes get with almandine. For a more pronounced pink colour there is rhodolite which ranges from pinkish red to a deep raspberry pink. For orange, there is hessonite, with its gorgeous swirling inclusions, and more expensively, spessartite. Malay garnet runs from yellow-orange to a lovely pinkish orange. Then you get the greens; hydrogrossular garnet with its black inclusions, yellowish-green demantoid with its horsetail inclusions, and vivid green, sparkling, firey grossular garnet, more commonly known as tsavorite. This is one of my favourite stones and I would take it over emerald any day. Garnet is also a really good choice for anyone who is not keen on gem treatments as it is not routinely treated with heat or anything else.

Clockwise from top left: Jane Taylor Malay Garnet and 14k Gold Ring, Vintage Tsavorite Garnet & Diamond Invisible Set Cocktail Ring 14k Gold, Quadram Hexagon Almandine Garnet RingPamela Huizenga Hydrogrossular Garnet & Diamond Earrings, William White Hessonite Garnet and Sterling Silver Ring, Henn of London Spessartite Garnet and 18k Gold Necklace

I’ll be doing posts on individual types of garnet so keep your eye out for those. I have a large variety of garnet stones; click here to browse the collection.

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