Garnet vs. Spessartine Crystal Mineral Specimen
HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Spessartine and other colored garnet-group minerals were among the first crystals ever used as gemstones. Its name is derived from the mineral’s type locality at Spessart, Bavaria, Germany. Collecting localities are found in Namibia, Madagascar, China, Australia, Brazil, Germany, and the United States (Colorado, California, Nevada, Virginia, Arizona).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Spessartine [manganese aluminum silicate, Mn3Al2(SiO4)3], pronounced SPESS-ar-teen, is a relatively rare member of the garnet group. It has a Mohs hardness of 6.9-7.2, specific gravity of 3.8-4.3, and lacks cleavage. Spessartine crystallizes in the cubic system, most often as transparent-to-opaque, well-formed docedahedrons with a vitreous luster. Its color is often orange, but ranges from hyacinth-red and orange-red to yellowish-brown and brown. Spessartine occurs primarily in association with quartz in metamorphosed schists; well-developed, gem-quality crystals are also found in granite pegmatites and rhyolitic vugs.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Medieval European crusaders wore spessartine for protection in battle and to ensure their safe return. According to modern metaphysical beliefs, spessartine enhances compassion, love, imagination, and creativity; teaches patience; and strengthens the mind and body in times of need. As one of the few true orange gemstones, flawless, transparent, orange spessartine crystals are faceted into gems, mostly for use as ring stones. Spessartine also has limited use (because of its rarity) as an industrial abrasive.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Because of its orange colors, high degree of crystal development, and interesting mineralogical associations in composite specimens, spessartine is one of the most widely collected of the garnet-group minerals.