Spessartite, Fanta & Mandarin Garnet

Bright, lustrous and burning with a fireball orange color – spessartite garnet is a favorite of all gemstone savants. With an orange color that is peerless amongst other gems, a very bright luster, and only coming from a handful of mines world wide, it is no wonder that this gem is prized amongst cognoscente collector’s. Not surprisingly, prices for fine pieces are high.

A gem of extremely high refractive index ri refractive index that creates a brighter more adamantine diamond like lustyer than almost any other popular or collectible gem other than garnet. Combined with is bright orange color, spessartine garnet of a partcilaur color range is given a trade name.

Color in Spessartite Garnet

The first spessartites found were in the Spessart Mountains of Southern Germany back in the late 19th Century, and also in the USA’s San Diego area and Virginia. Neither of these mines produced enough gem material to be commercially viable.

In the early 1990’s in the area around the Kunene river in that straddles the border of Namibia and also Angola, spessartite garnets of an unusual brightness, luminosity and freedom from dark tones were discovered. Bright and exploding with color, these ultra rare garnets become highly sought after.

The name mandarin garnet became in used due to the mandarin orange, other stores say the name mandarin garnet comes from the fact in ancient China only high ranking officials, mandarins, were allowed to wear orange, thus conferring an air of exclusivity on the gem.

Color in spessartite garnet can range from a deep pure red hue all the way to intense yellows, with a myriad of saturation levels and overtones of darkness.

As spessartite moves through the color ranges, the value and price of mandarin spessartite in any given size and clarity falls and rises with enjoyability, beauty and vividness of color.

The chart above plots the range of color we can experience in spessartite garnet. While beauty is certainly subjective to personal tastes, the markets as whole value the middle section of this diagram. From left to right we see the gradation of hue as it moves from pure red, through to orange and towards yellow. The yellow color range in spessartite stops before any green hues creep, and likewise one the left the red section does not drift towards purple at all.

From top to bottom what we see is saturation running from very pale at the top, through the mid range into ideal saturation, and as we move towards the bottom we pick up the dark overtones of color.

While this diagram is theoretical, habitual occurrence of frequency

The diagram to the below or right, draws to bands across the color range. These are the “bands of occurrence” that plot the typical overall-color as we move through the hue ranges. We see the red hues on the left can be pure red and also be overly dark, but almost never pale red that gives way to pink. As we move right thru the hue range towards orange in the center the propensity for darkness decreases, however, the potential for pale saturations enters the equation.

Finally as we move right over to the yellow hues you can see the potential for value detraction lies not with dark overtones which are almost never seen, but is with the lack of saturation – this is particularly prevalent with smaller mandarins that lack size and hence color-mass.

Fanta & Mandarin Garnet

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Where Spessartite Garnets Are Found

With the golden sunset hues that glow like hot coals and embers, spessartite has now been elevated to the position of a highly desirable collector’s gemstones. Unsurprisingly when gem prices go up in prices, new finds are made. It seems the Kunene River find sparked demand, which them stokes explorational of prospecting awareness which then gives way to new finds.

the color palette for fine spessartite changed

Marienfluss River, Namibia

When the Namibian deposit came online around 1991, the color palette for fine spessartite changed. The material coming out of Marienfluss, Kunene Region was an electric mandarin-orange hue, with some minor pink or red secondary that made it seem very pure and intense. The only drawback to this material was that it often had fine needles creating a silky appearance.


The Nigerian deposit was by far the the biggest as far as carats produced. This deposit in Iseyin, Oyo State, Nigeria produced material from dark reddish-orange, to cinnamon orange, to yellowish orange, to mandarin hues. This material is very clean compared to many other spessartite deposits and still holds strong orange colors.

Loliondo, Tanzania

Fanta & Mandarin Spessartite For Sale

A selection of fanta and mandarin spessartites for sale available to buy.

Spessartite Garnet Price Calculator

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Spessartite FAQS

In the fine qualities, spessartite garnet can be considered as an extremely rare gemstone.

In the evolution of naming gemstones, spessartite garnet also received the name spessartine – they are exactly the same thing — ‘spessartite’ came via the English language, and ‘spessartine’ from German.

In the evolution of naming gemstones, spessartite garnet also received the name spessartine – they are exactly the same thing — ‘spessartite’ came via the English language, and ‘spessartine’ from German.

In the evolution of naming gemstones, spessartite garnet also received the name spessartine – they are exactly the same thing — ‘spessartite’ came via the English language, and ‘spessartine’ from German.

Gemmological Properties of Spessartite Garnet

Spessartite Chemistry & Crystallography

Chemical Name Manganese Aluminium Silicate
Chemical Formula Mn3Al2(SiO4)3
Crystal System Cubic
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Spessartite Physical Properties

Mohs Hardness 7 – 7.5
Specific Gravity 4.120 – 4.200
Luster Sub-Adamantine
Toughness Good
Stability Excellent
Cleavage None

Spessartite Optical Properties

Dispersion Moderate
Refractive Index 1.81
Fluorescence LWUV – Inert. SWUV – Inert
Pleochroism None
Chelsea Filter Inert. No Reaction

Spessartite Garnet References & Further Reading

2009 GIA

2011 Gem-A Gems and Gemology

2011 Gem-A Gems and Gemology