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gemstone dictionary

Rhodolite Garnet

Most important member of the Pyrope-Almandine series (see "Garnet")

Rhodolite Garnet shop

Origin of name: from greek rhodos = rose and lithos = stone

First found in the 1890ies in Cowee Valley, Macon County, North Carolina. The purplish colour and the light tone excited admiration among the gem community of the day. The deposit was described in detail by American gemmologists Hidden and Pratt, who also coined the name "Rhodolite".

Synonyms and trade names: Rose Garnet

Can be confused with: other red Garnets and other red stones like Spinel and Rubellite (red Tourmaline). Specimens with pronounced violett hue may also be confused with Amethyst.

Localities: the North Carolina deposits have long been depleted and are of merely touristic interest today. Currently the deposits of highest importance for the world gem trade are in Asia and in Africa.

India: the states of Orissa and, to a lesser extent, Rajasthan.
The Sri Lankan deposits in the vicinity of Rathnapura (meaning "City of Gems") are of slightly lesser commercial importance.

Africa: Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Sambia and, above all, the Umba Valley in northern Tanzania from were the deposits reach into southern Kenya.

Rhodolith Granat aus Tansania - Rhodolite Garnet from Tanzania
Fine Rhodolite Garnet from Tanzania

Rhodolith Granat aus Indien - Rhodolite Garnet from India  Rhodolith Granat aus Indien - Rhodolite Garnet from India  Rhodolith Granat aus Indien - Rhodolite Garnet from India
Various Rhodolites from Orissa, India

Rhodolith Cabochon aus Indien - Rhodolite cabochon from India  Rhodolith Cabochon aus Indien - Rhodolite cabochon from India
Indian Rhodolite cabochons of very different colour

Handling: somewhat sensitive to heat and acids, otherwise unproblematic.

Worth knowing: the purplish-red colour was the most desired colour and made Rhodolite the most expensive of all red Garnets from Roman times to today. Up to a weight of about 3cts Rhodolite is relatively easy to obtain. Above 3cts it gets difficult and prices per carat rise rather sharply.

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Gemmological Properties of Rhodolite Garnet
FormulaMg3Al2[SiO4]3
Crystal systemcubic
Mohs hardness7-7.5
Specific gravityvariable 3.80 to 3.95
Refractive indexvariable 1.75 to 1.78
Dispersion0.022
Pleochroismnone
Luminiscenceinert
Lustrevitreous
Cleavagenone
Fractureconchoidal
Colourviolett red, pink
Spectrumtypical Almandine spectrum with strong bands at 505nm and 575nm and a moderate band at 527nm
 


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