Purple Rhodolite Garnet from Mozambique
UPDATE February 1, 2019: The deposit was declared mined-out in early 2018 and is no longer producing
These purple pyrope-almandine garnets are from Manica Province of Mozambique. This faceted stone in the center weighs 3.34 ct.
In early 2016, attractive purple garnets from East Africa started to appear in the Bangkok market at the Bangkok Gem Fair. Mark Saul of Swala Gem Traders (Arusha, Tanzania) was informed that the source was a very unstable area of Manica Province in central Mozambique. The deposit is located about 60 km northeast of Chimoio, near Gorongosa National Park.
The area is under the control of the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), an armed rebel group.
Purple Garnet can be considered among the most exquisite shades available in rhodolite garnet (The most known color of garnets). Rhodolite is a member of the pyrope-almandine garnet group. There are five primary groups that gem-quality garnets hail from, and most garnets are a blend of more than one, providing collectors and admirers endless variety.
Generally, rhodolite garnet ranges from a rose to red color. Purple Garnet, on the other hand, appears as a delicious grape color. While all garnets typically have the same crystal structure, their chemical composition can vary wildly. This provides the great diversity we enjoy today.
Purple garnets, with other members of its family, are idiochromatic gemstones. Their color is determined by its chemical composition. In this case, the rich purple color is due to the strong presence of magnesium and iron within the stone.
The color is intensely saturated, making smaller sizes more ideal for the best display of color. Stones become darker as their size increases, and it's rare to see specimens over three carats.
Now, if you were to place a purple garnet alongside a fine amethyst, you would be struck by the similarity in color. Despite these surface similarities, fine examples of amethyst tend to appear in a royal purple color, with more blue. Purple garnet will show redder in their grape color. The luster of these gems also set them apart. Amethyst possesses a vitreous luster, resembling polished glass when cut. Purple garnet has what is known as a sub-adamantine luster, which is almost diamond-like.
Refractive Index: 1.767(+/-.003)
Specific Gravity: 3.87(+/- .02)
Toughness: Fair to Good
Single Sources: Mozambique (Manica Province)