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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Pyrope (var. rhodolite)

Round-cut purple pyrope (var. rhodolite) weighing 15.75 ct.
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10635-00
Locality Sri Lanka
Weight 15.75 ct

Gift of Chamberlain Fund in 2009.

Although garnets are commonly thought of as deep red stones, the name garnet actually refers to a family of 15 distinct minerals, five of which are commonly used as gemstones. All members of the garnet family share the same basic atomic structure and are closely related, but they differ in chemical composition. The color of a garnet is determined by its composition. Garnets exhibit the complete spectrum of colors: spessartine (yellowish to reddish-orange), almandine (red to brownish or purplish-red), pyrope (red), grossular (colorless, pink, orange, yellow, brown or green), and andradite (green to greenish-yellow). Rhodolite garnet is a variety that is intermediate in composition between almandine and pyrope and is typically pink to purplish-red in color. These raspberry pink garnets were found in North Carolina in the late 1800s and were named rhodolite because the color resembled the blossoms of the local rhododendron plant. The most important sources of top quality rhodolite garnet are Tanzania, India, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. This 15.75ct garnet from a gem gravel deposit in Sri Lanka displays the beautiful pinkish-purple color of fine quality rhodolite.


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