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Intense, Apple-Green Garnet, Our Rarest!

fullsizeoutput_708aThough we deal with some of the rarest garnets on earth few compare to this Siberian gem, which is rare, on so many levels.

Hydrogrossular Garnet is one of the rarest gems on earth. It is almost always opaque and on rare occasion translucent. Then there is the rarest clarity in hydrogrossular garnet which is transparent. Even if you were to find this, “needle in a haystack,” so to speak it, would almost surely have inclusions; so factor in the rarity of an eye-clean gem and your proverbial needle is now in a haystack the size of the state of Texas.

Okay, so this is a very rare gem, right? But wait! Now, factor in color, the most desirable of which is – intense, apple-green. Then to make this gem rarer yet, let us get ridiculous and consider the source of this gem, one of the coldest, cruelest climates on earth – Siberia. Let us make it more preposterous and say you are even able to search for this gem in Russia’s, “frozen hell,” but, actually survive one of the coldest, most remote and desolate places on earth. Now, we must point at yonder mountain range, (the Ural Mountains), and inform you that the gem is somewhere hidden, “Up yonder.”

Stalin, and other Czars throughout the ages used Siberia to send their worst enemies to disappear, or die. There was no fate so feared in the Russian empire as to be sent to the tortious Gulag (prisons of death), in Siberia. Unless, you have the romantic, storybook resiliency of Dr. Zhivago, a trip to Siberia was/is generally a one-way ticket. If you don’t starve, you will freeze and you would be apt to freeze whilst starving. Finally, let’s add yet another level to the rarity of this gem and say you must be in perhaps the most dangerous part of Siberia and send you up a frozen mountain, (the Ural Mountain Range), to look for this, “impossible rock.” Now perhaps, you get an idea of how rare this gem really is.

So, when people ask me why I am asking 5500.00 a carat for this gem I tell them they would be better off to buy a fake, mislabeled, or treated gem off of eBay, ETSY, etc.; or they can head to Siberia in search of this gem and most likely come back with nothing close to this gem and spend more than the price of this gem on plane fare and the expedition if you could get approval to mine there. I can’t replace this gem, therefore I have established a price based on the beauty of this gem, plus a mere fraction of its rarity is factored into my price. It is priced at what I feel it is worth to me and I simply can’t replace this gem, I have looked all over the place.

Okay, enough about this gem, now let’s take a look at what is and what is not a hydrogrossular garnet. First of all, let’s exclude all treated gems though we will touch upon the various treatments and alternate names this gem is known by. The only treatment should be cut and standard polish. No heat, no glass filling or treatment of any kind, period. The gems I have found labeled or tagged hydrogrossular garnet online, (thus far), have all had heavy-inclusions, (especially a black-pepper type of inclusion, usually magnetite) or, they are milky, opaque, or a sickly green color, if green at all. Others have turned out to be fake, mislabeled and/or treated even when they are translucent (like jade), not transparent (like diamonds). One particular gem looked great in the photo but in the video was heavily pock-marked and far from translucent.

Many of the sellers who have what looks to be high-quality gems use tricky language to make you think your gems are untreated like using the words, “earth-mined,” and “natural,” and if read thoroughly there is usually some form of treatment within the verbiage. “Earth-mined or “natural,” in their interpretation simply means at least most of the gem was pulled out of the dirt somewhere on earth and it started life with at least some of the natural gem intact. It does not mean they have not coated, heated, glass filled and/or treated the gem.

New language now makes it illegal to use the terms, “earth-mined or “natural,” for glass/beryllium filled gems. Therefore it is safe to assume that this gem is best purchased from a dealer, or collector, you trust and whom might actually be apt to obtain gems of this rarity and quality.  Also, it should be a dealer/miner who  will agree to have the gem GIA tested and/or refund your money if you have it tested and it fails to be the described gem or has treatment of any kind. Keep in mind, a GIA test has taken over 4 weeks in some cases to complete and ship back so make sure to factor that timeframe into your bargaining and get it in writing! The dealer should know to some degree the history of the gem, from mine to market. If you trust their story, I know one dealer who has a romantic story for every gem in his collection. When I go to visit him I tell my wife I will be out, “romancing the stone,” ha…ha.

There are private gem laboratories that can give you much more detail than GIA on rare gems including origin but they are expensive and hard to book. If you have an extremely are gem you may contact me for lab booking. GIA does not provide origin reports on gems this rare. They will tell you what it is and if they detect treatment only.  Other commercial labs I would not even trust with those two bits of information.

So assuming you feel comfortable that you have located an untreated gem lets look at what makes up a hydrogrossular garnet and the difference between our focal gem and grossular garnet, grossularite, hebschite and demantoid garnet – which is frequently tagged as hydrogrossular garnet. A quick online search reveals the following quip:

Hydrogrossular garnet is typically translucent to opaque and is usually available as cabochons, but on rare occasion may be found as transparent, faceted gemstones. … Hydrogrossular is a variety of grossular garnet where hydroxide partially replaces silica.

Also we can identify that at least some quality of opaque/translucent hydrogrossular garnet is sold as jade, jadeite and sold under the misnomers: African jade, Transvaal jade and garnet jade.  I have also seen this gem selling as, demantoid garnet. 

Lets go shopping for transvaal jade, garnet jade, african jade and demantoid garnet under the taghydrogrossular garnet as well as for the real thing and see what we turn up today. First lets search Google for Russian Hydrogrossular Garnet Green Transparent



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