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Garnet Clarity

Garnets are gorgeous stones, but despite their natural beauty, you still want to get the best quality gem for your money. These fine garnets will be able to be used in lovely jewelry, such as a garnet ring or set of earrings. Part of choosing the perfect garnet stones is determining the optimal clarity. This brief guide to garnet clarity should help you understand how to pick out the best stone for your jewelry.

Gemstone Clarity

Clarity is often one of the most important aspects of a gemstone. Clarity means how "clear" the stone is. Or, in other words, how free it is from blemishes and inclusions. Because gemstones are naturally formed inside the earth, they are susceptible to air, liquid, or other substances getting trapped inside their structure. These are known as inclusions, and they can look like rods, bubbles, or sometimes feathers. When it comes to diamonds, the more inclusions, the lower the stone's value and price.

Colored gemstones, like garnets, are a bit different. A stone may be able to have quite a few inclusions without significantly impacting its value. Some tend to have very little inclusions, like aquamarines, while others may naturally be found with a lot of inclusions, such as emeralds.

Clarity and Garnet Value

In order for garnets to be faceted and set into jewelry, they should be eye-clean. Eye-clean means that when viewed without magnification, no inclusions can be seen. Should a garnet have inclusions but still be fit for faceting, a gem cutter will attempt to cut away most of the inclusions, choosing the best shape and cut for the stone. Then, the resulting garnet stone will be set into jewelry.

Garnets come in many colors, but regardless of their hue, darker stones can more easily hide inclusions. The most valuable color for an eye-clean garnet is a vivid green. However, red garnets are the most common and tend to be very popular as they are the birthstone of January. A vibrant red garnet will be better at hiding inclusions and, therefore, can be more valuable. The lighter the stone, the more important clarity becomes.

Obvious inclusions, or those that are so numerous that they make the stone opaque, often mean the gem is more suited to a bead or cabochon. A cabochon is a polished stone cut with a domed top and a flat back. They can be used in jewelry, but generally not the fine quality jewelry suited to faceted gems. Orange garnets, such as hessonite and spessartine, have more inclusions than red garnets, like rhodolite. The beauty of these gems can be enhanced by a cabochon cut, despite their low-quality clarity.

Types of Garnet Inclusions

While it is true that you may only be looking for eye-clean stones, it can still be interesting to know what types of inclusions commonly affect garnets. Various inclusions may make a garnet unfit for a ring or necklace, but they can create interesting patterns that make a stone lovely in its own right.


Needles can be larger and starker than other inclusions. They often are formed by other materials or minerals within the garnet stone. Needles often appear as tubes or rods; too many of them can make a stone opaque and unfit for faceting.

Rutile Inclusions

Rutile is a mineral that often creates inclusions in garnet. Rutile is yellow to reddish-brown in color. When it creates inclusions in garnet, it often appears like strands of straw. Rutile inclusions can degrade the value of a garnet.


Feathers are sometimes referred to as fingerprints. They can be the result of liquid trapped in a forming garnet. They appear as very thin lines, like those of a feather. Alone, they won't block enough light to make a stone opaque. A large number of them may make a garnet ideal for a cabochon.


Garnets can be susceptible to other minerals forming inclusions within them. If these inclusions fall out during cutting or polishing, they can leave a hole. This void is known as a cavity. In some cases, a cavity can be hidden behind a bezel setting or prong to obscure them from view.

Garnet Clarity Scale

Unlike diamonds, Garnet and other colored gemstones don't have a set grading scale. The GIA has a clarity grading code system that can be applied to garnets. AAAA stones are the best quality and the most valuable; they are eye-clean and have a clear, vivid color. In the case of the most common garnet, a rich red coloring.

AAA stones are eye-clean too. They will often have a slightly less vibrant color, such as a medium red. AA stones will have slight inclusions and can be too dark or pale to meet higher color grades. A grade stones are the lowest, having less than ideal coloring and a few to a moderate amount of inclusions. Most garnets are untreated, as heat and radiation cannot change the stone very much.

AAA stones or higher are the most desired for faceting and jewelry. With Clarity, jewelry only uses AAA stones, with beautiful color and excellent clarity.


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