Garnet: Viceroy Spessartite

Mined in Nigeria, this 100 percent natural gemstone is named after the Viceroy Monarch butterfly, for its bright orange brilliance. Viceroy spessartite garnet is a lively, upbeat addition to gem collections.

Throughout the ages, garnets have been one of the most coveted and popular gems because of their classic and magnificent colors. The word garnet originates from the Latin word "garanatus," meaning "seed like," referring to the richly colored pomegranate fruit. While they share a common crystal make-up with diamond and spinel, and similar refractive qualities, garnets come from a separate group of minerals. Though several varieties of red garnet are present on every continent, other types like this orange spessartite are sparse. Besides its beauty and variety, the garnet has a strength that makes it a working stone. A garnet necklace was unearthed in a grave dating back to 3000 BCE, emphasizing this gemstones durability. Geologists use garnets to determine the genesis of some rocks via geothermobarometry, the science of determining at which temperatures and pressures igneous and metamorphic rocks took shape. Garnet sand is used for precision cutting of steel and in making glass lenses. Nigerian spessartite garnet can be recognized by its unmistakable bright orange color and brilliance. It forms in shades of orange, including red orange, pure orange and fluorescent yellow-orange. The Viceroy spessartite garnet was first detected in 1832 in the village of Spessart in the Bavarian region of Germany. Viceroy spessartite garnet takes its name from the Viceroy Monarch butterfly. The gemstone's orange color is quite identical with that of the Viceroy Monarch butterfly. Rhodolite Garnet was first discovered in 1882 in the hills of North Carolina. The word rhodolite means rose stone, from the Greek words "rho'don" meaning rose and "lithos" meaning stone. Viceroy Spessartite Garnet is a unique pyrope-almandine member of the garnet family. This naturally occurring combination gives it an unusually high refractive index and exceptional brilliance. This rare variety of garnet displays a range of shades, from pale rose-red with hints of purple to deep, grape purples with secondary tones of intense rose-red. The rich color of Viceroy Spessartite Garnet is the exact color of the rough removed from the mine. It is not enhanced in any way. Miners in Orissa recently found some exceptional rough of this gemstone. We were very lucky to be one of the first companies to learn about this find because of our long relationship with the mine owners. Our buyers immediately went to India to secure these gemstones. Gemstones larger than two carats are extremely rare finds and can be very expensive.

  • The garnet family has a long history that dates back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. In the Bible, Noah used a lamp from garnet to guide his Ark through the darkness of night. The garnet was a symbol of one of the first 12 tribes of Israel.
  • Ancient explorers and travelers wore garnets as an amulet to inspire success in commerce and ensure safe journeys.
  • Tribes in Asia and the American Southwest used to make bullets from garnets, thinking that they caused greater wounds that took longer to heal and cut through the skin better. These bullets were used up until the 19th Century.
  • In medieval times, people used garnets to ease depression, ward off bad dreams and alleviate ailments of the liver. Garnet was also believed to soothe arthritis.
  • Garnet symbolizes purity, truth, love and compassion.


We obtain spessartite garnets from the Jouss mines in Ibadan, Nigeria. Nigerian spessartite was first spotted in 1999. While material from Nigeria is fairly new, finding spessartite garnet in its raw form or straight from the mine is nearly impossible. However, we were fortunate to acquire an excellent grade of spessartite garnet from Nigeria prior to its absence from the market. They exhibit a bright Mandarin orange color.

  • Ranks 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.
  • Color shows a bright Mandarin orange.
  • Sourced from Nigeria.
  • Member of the garnet family
  • Birthstone for January.
  • Associated with the zodiac sign of Aquarius.
  • Traditional gift for second anniversaries.
  • 100 percent natural gemstone; no dyes, chemicals or heat treatments have been applied.