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What is a Spessartite?

With such an intense coloring, Spessartite Garnets make for the perfect stone to highlight a High Jewelry piece. These orange colored stones have recently been on the rise in popularity in the latest High Jewelry collections we have spotted during the last Couture Week!

Author By Holly Albertson

Spessartite is a gemstone that is from the garnet family. First discovered in the 1880s in Germany, their name is derived from the Bavarian word ‘spessart’ meaning forest. These stones come in varying intensities of orange, with some red and brown tones to them. These vibrantly colored stones have been found in Burma, Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Namibia and the USA.

The most popular color of Spessartites we can find is that of an intense yellow orange. These are referred to in the trade as mandarin garnets and are mostly found in Namibia. While not all spessartite are of this color, the other vibrant hues are still widely appreciated and enjoyed.

Spessartite Garnets' Shades
Spessartite Garnets

These intense and vibrant colors have been slowly making their way into many fine and High Jewelry collections. In 2013, we saw many pieces of spessartite, even mandarin garnets featured in Cartier’s High Jewelry collection L’Odyssee de Cartier Parcours d’un Style. First, a 63.55-carat spessartite cabochon, that is highlighted in a bracelet, with a diamond encrusted panther clutching the magnificent stone. In another diamond bracelet, we find a 104.06-carat sugarloaf cut mandarin garnet. This curved setting is matched in a ring, with a 39.18-carat sugarloaf cut mandarin garnet and earrings with cabochon cut stones totaling 24.21-carats. These brightly colored stones are perfect additions to the all diamond settings.

Cartier - L'Odyssée de Cartier bracelet set with a spessartite cabochon and diamonds
Cartier – L’Odyssée de Cartier bracelet set with a spessartite cabochon and diamonds
Cartier L'Odyssée de Cartier ring set with a sugarloaf cut mandarin garnet
Cartier L’Odyssée de Cartier ring set with a sugarloaf cut mandarin garnet

In Dior’s newest High Jewelry collection released this summer, Victoire de Castellane, Artistic Director of the brand has decided to set spessartite garnets as both centerstones and pavés. The Dior Dior Dior collection features gorgeous lace like pieces, colorfully created with a variety of colored gemstones. The Dentelle Popeline Grenat Spessartite bracelet, ring and earrings all feature a gorgeous, intensely orange spessartite garnet as centerstone. In contrast, you’ll see sweet little pieces of spessartite in the Dentelle Tulle Tourmaline Type Paraiba ring and earrings. These stones are more brown orange, helping the vibrant Paraiba to stand out.

Dior - "Dentelle Popeline Grenant Spessartite" earrings from the Dior Dior Dior collection mounted on rose gold set with diamonds spessartite garnets and pink and yellow sapphires
Dior – “Dentelle Popeline Grenat Spessartite” earrings from the Dior Dior Dior collection mounted on rose gold set with diamonds, spessartites, garnets and pink and yellow sapphires
Dior - "Dentelle Tulle Tourmaline Type Paraîba" ring mounted on yellow and white gold set with diamonds, Paraiba tourmalines, emeralds, tsavorite garnets, pink sapphires and spessartite garnets from the Dior Dior Dior collection
Dior – “Dentelle Tulle Tourmaline Type Paraîba” ring mounted on yellow and white gold set with diamonds, Paraiba tourmalines, emeralds, tsavorite garnets, pink sapphires and spessartite garnets from the Dior Dior Dior collection

Not only are jewelers using spessartite in their jewels, but also in watches. Early this year, Van Cleef & Arpels unveiled 8 new Secret Watch pieces, as part of their Le Jardin collection. These High Jewelry watches all revolve around nature, Van Cleef’s favorite theme. They look more like diamond encrusted bracelets than watches, hence the secret part. Two of these watches, the Pivoine and Chrysanthème have center buds that open up to unveil a dial spotted with spessartite garnets. These garnets are rich in a golden tone, resembling the vibrant pollen filled center of flowers.

Spessartite garnet’s rich and varied color allow jewelers to play with both large center stones and smaller melee accent pieces.

Van Cleef & Arpels - Pivoine Secrète watch dial in yellow gold set with round spessartite garnets, petals in white gold and round diamonds
Van Cleef & Arpels – Pivoine Secrète watch dial in yellow gold set with round spessartite garnets, petals in white gold and round diamonds
Van Cleef & Arpels - Chrysanthème Secret watch with a dial mounted on yellow gold set with round spessartite garnets, petals in pink gold, round diamonds and round pink sapphires
Van Cleef & Arpels – Chrysanthème Secret watch with a dial mounted on yellow gold set with round spessartite garnets, petals in pink gold, round diamonds and round pink sapphires