Mandarine Garnet

We reserve the name mandarin garnet exclusively for the bright orange spessartines from Namibia, for which the name was originally coined. We disapprove of the trade habit to describe all orange spessartines, regardless of origin and quality of colour, as mandarines.

Mandarin Garnet shop

In 1991 orange garnets of never seen before intensity of colour were found near the Kunene river between Namibia and Angola. These gems immediately attracted the attention of the entire gem community. Firstly the new gem was called hollandine, after the Dutch royal House of Orange-Nassau, or Kunene spessartine. Finally the name mandarin garnet took hold because allegedly in ancient China only high ranking officials, the mandarines, were allowed to wear orange.

mandarin granat garnetmandarinmandarin

There were only two small deposits of mandarine garnet which unfortunately were mined for a few years only. In 1998 both mines were closed. Once again an old Namibian miner's word had come true: Namibia is rich in poor gem deposits…
Rumours that mandarin garnet can also be found on the Angolan side of the Kunene are true but it seems as if nobody is interested in actually minig them.

Now and again there were attempts to re-animate the mines on the Namibian side. Alas, so far all have failed for various reasons. The deposits are 1.500km from the capital Windhoek. There are no roads and the terrain is so difficult that very often it cannot even be mastered by four-wheel drive. Another problem is tensions between mine workers from other parts of the country and the local tribes and last but not least competition from cheaper and bigger Nigerian spessartines is too stiff, even though their colour really is no match for Namibian mandarines.


Left: spessartine garnet from Nigeria
Right: mandarin granat from Namibia

Our mandarin garnets are cut from a lot of small rough which we received from the last mine operator at the end of the 1990ies

Mandarin Garnet shop

Gemmological Properties of Mandarine Garnet

Crystal system:
Mohs hardness:
6.5 to 7.5
Specific gravity:
variable 4.12 to 4.32
Refractive index:
variable 1.795 to 1.815
Max. Birefringence:
singly refractive