Garnets have captured jewelry lovers for thousands of years because of their rich color, stunning beauty and interesting meaning. Like most gemstones, garnet quality gets graded using the four Cs (color, clarity, cut, and carat weight). Before you shop for a beautiful garnet, it’s helpful to know how they’re graded so you can evaluate garnets on your own.
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How are Garnets Graded?
Garnets are unique gems known for their intense hues and luster. Gemologists consider color one of the most important factors for assessing (aka grading) garnets. Gemologists also consider clarity, cut and carat weight for grading.
How to Grade Garnet Color
A garnet’s color is an important factor. The reddish hue is the most popular and abundant type of garnet color. However, you can find garnets in other colors as well including orange, brown, yellow, pink, green, blue, and colorless. Peach, green (tsavorite), colorless, and blue gemstones are rare.
While demantoid and tsavorite garnets are both rare and green, they’re different varieties. Tsavorite is a grossularite garnet and demantoid is an andradite garnet.
How to Grade Garnet Clarity
Typical garnet clarity depends on its type. For example, the red garnets almandine, pyrope, and rhodolite typically do not have eye-visible inclusions. It’s common for some types of orange garnets, like spessartine and hessonite, to have inclusions seen by the naked eye.
Some common garnet inclusions include:
- Fingerprint inclusions
- Asbestos fibers
- Small graphite platelets
How to Grade Garnet Cut
Many garnets are cut into standard shapes and sizes to allow easy setting into jewelry. They’re a tough stone (about 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale) so you’ll see cuts of all types. A well-cut garnet will display dozens of symmetrical facets, and will also minimize inclusions. Rare and expensive garnets, like tsavorite and demantoid, get cut into different shapes to retain the most carat weight as possible.
Custom-cut morganites are usually the most valuable and expensive, due to their uniqueness. Morganites with more inclusions are more affordable than those that are eye-clean.
How to Grade Garnet Carat Weight
You’ll find these beautiful gemstones in various weights and sizes. Some garnets are large in size but still affordable. The more rare garnets, like demantoid and tsavorite, typically found in small sizes, so their value goes up significantly with size.
The most well-known red garnet type, almandine, are typically found in larger sizes, so there is not a huge rise in cost as size increases.
Garnet Grading Chart
Unlike diamonds, garnets don’t have a standard grading chart. Here’s a guideline for how garnets get categorized in terms of quality.
- Good: A “good” garnet is dark red in color with slight inclusions and low brilliance. THis category represents the top 75% of garnets. This type of quality is comparable to mall jewelers.
- Better: A “better” garnet has medium to dark red color with slight inclusions and moderate brilliance. Its quality is comparable to that used by leading independent jewelry stores.
- Best: A “best” garnet is eye clean with medium red hue and high brilliance. This type of garnet quality can be found in top 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive jewelers.
- Heirloom: An “heirloom” garnet exudes a rich red hue. It’s eye clean with exceptional brilliance. These are the best garnets in the world in terms of quality.
Garnet cost depends on the quality, or the grade of the stone. Garnets are not graded by GIA like other gemstones, but some brands create their own grading systems for colored gemstones.
For decently-colored gems with some inclusions, the cost ranges from $500 to $600 per carat. For cleaner, larger stones with excellent color, costs range from $2,000 to $7,000. The rare demantoid and tsavorite garnets are the most valuable type of garnet, and it is also one of the most uncommon and valuable of all colored gemstones.
Why Pick a Garnet?
Garnets are one of the most appealing gemstones known for their hue and luster. In addition to their beauty, these stones are popular for their durability and hardness. On the Mohs scale, this gemstone scores 6.5 to 7.5. They’re also an affordable choice, so you can get a high-quality garnet at a reasonable price. If you happen to have a loved one with a January birthday, garnet is their birthstone and a garnet ring would make an amazing gift.
How do you pick the best quality garnet?
Color is a huge factor for garnets. The reddish hue is the most popular and abundant form of garnet. But you can find garnet gemstones available in other colors (orange, brown, yellow, pink, green, blue, and colorless). Stones in peach, green, colorless, and blue are more rare.
How can you tell that a garnet is real?
Real garnets have saturated color and some have inclusions seen by the naked eye (depending on the type of garnet). If you look closely at a garnet with a jeweler’s loupe or a microscope, and you don’t see any inclusions, it’s likely not real.
Which is the rarest type of garnet?
Tsavorite, an intense green stone, is the world's rarest garnet. Tsavorite isn’t a well-known gemstone, but it’s gaining popularity. This green gemstone features high refractive index and dispersion levels that translate into mesmerizing brilliance and has fewer inclusions than emeralds.
How is a garnet graded?
Like other gemstones, garnets are graded using the color, clarity, carat weight, and cut (known as the 4 Cs). As a colored gemstone, the garnet’s color plays a big part in its grading. Garnet grading charts classify these gemstones as good, better, best, and heirloom.