One of the most famous gemstone families historically is the garnet. Like sapphires and spinel, garnets can be found in all different hues and colors. One of the more famous varieties of garnet is the hessonite garnet, known to some as the "cinnamon stone". Through history hessonite has been a consistently strong choice due to its rich, deep color, historical and religious significance, and excellent value.
While garnets can be found in nearly all colors, hessonite is primarily known for its deep orange/amber color. This color is the result of the presence of the trace element iron in the garnet mineral. It is this unique and rich color to which the nickname "cinnamon stone" is derived. The colors of hessonite can range anywhere from light yellowish orange, to a deep orange-red hue. This unique color truly makes hessonite stand out from other color gemstones.
Another main factor in the popularity of hessonites is its historical and religious significance. The name hessonite itself derives from the Ancient Greek word esson, meaning inferior (note: this refers to the gemstone's low density and hardness). The Romans and Greeks highly favored hessonite for their jewelry, especially intaglio (engraved) pieces. Many astrologists believe that wearing hessonite of a particular size will bring about success and wealth, as well as a long life. Hessonite is a prominent stone in Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, and is known to many in Asia as one of the 9 stones which represents celestial bodies in the solar system. In addition to wealth and prosperity, hessonite is considered to bring about good fortune and health. This makes hessonite a very popular choice for those looking to practice religious or spiritual beliefs, or simply those looking to connect themselves with their heritage and community.
Hessonite is also remarkable for its incredible value. Despite it being a rare gemstone, the price of hessonite has remained relatively low compared to other rare gemstones, mainly due to a lack of name recognition compared to others. Due to the popularity of hessonite in astrological and religious jewelry, all hessonites on the market are not treated. This again raises the value of hessonite as it is a pure stone which derives its color naturally. Finally, hessonites also tend to be on the larger side than most other gemstones. It is not uncommon to be able to find hessonites in the 3 carat range and larger. For those looking to add a beautiful, eye-catching precious gemstone but don't want to break the bank, hessonite is an obvious choice.
On the Mohs scale of hardness, hessonite ranks a 6.5 out of 10. It is certainly not as hard or durable as sapphires, however with just a bit more care the hessonite is definitely suitable for jewelry. For those looking to use hessonite in astrological jewelry, the hardness of hessonite is not much of a factor as all astrological rings are set in low bezel settings to have the gemstone touching skin. This protects the stone almost fully and allows it to be easily used in everyday jewelry.
Hessonite Garnet Quality and Pricing Factors
Unlike most gemstones, there are no individual grading systems for each quality of a hessonite. Rather, there is a singular letter grade for the hessonite overall. The basis of this letter grade (A-AAAA) are still the same qualities that nearly all gemstones are judged upon.
Quality of a hessonite is predicated on three important factors: color, clarity and transparency.
Color is the most important quality factor for a hessonite and is the primary driver of value. General rule is that as color saturation of a hessonite increases, the value increases. However, as the hessonite color becomes oversaturated and eventually opaque, the price drops substantially. A very light color hessonite and an overly dark/opaque hessonite will generally command a similar price.
Colored gems do not have a standardized grading system and it is extremely rare to find a hessonite with no eye visible imperfections. This is in stark contrast to Diamonds who have a standardized grading system and utilize magnification to inspect clarity. In the wholesale trade we evaluate hessonite clarity using the following methodology:
(1)Holding the hessonite face up 12 inches from the observer's eye
(2)Tilting them in various directions to visually inspect if any inclusions are visible
(3)Only imperfections viewable on the crown (top part of the gemstone) are inspected and not the pavilion (back side)
Cut / Transparency
Lapidary's cut hessonites according to the shade of the hessonite rough material to get the desired color (the primary price driver). Darker material is cut shallower to allow more light to go through the gem, while lighter material is cut deeper to allow the hessonite to hold in more light and increase saturation. Cutting hessonite is an art and requires years of experience.
Carat / Measurements
The weight of a gemstone is measured in a unit called carats (cts.). There are 5 carats in 1 gram. As discussed above, a hessonite can be cut deep or shallow to maximize the color of the hessonite. A deep cut 1 carat hessonite will appear visually smaller than a 1 carat shallow hessonite. For this reason, it is best to judge a hessonite based on millimeter measurements (length and width) and not carat weight.
Click here for our Stone Size Chart which you can print to see the actual sizes of various shapes
Click here for our Stone Size Tool where you can input various measurements to see a basic rendering of centerstone sizes relative to your finger - particularly useful if you are planning to mount the gem in a ring.
Please Note: The carat weight listed on the website for pairs is the combined total weight of the two gemstones.
Hessonites are mined in various locations around the world. All origins produce high and low quality gemstones. Currently there is no excess premium for one origin over another. However, hessonites from Ceylon and India tend to have higher quality deposits.
Currently there are no known accepted Hessonite Garnet treatments or enhancements in the industry. All Hessonites should be advertised as untreated or with no enhancements. Any treatments applied to Hessonites are not accepted by reputable jewelers and should be avoided.
Overall Grading Value (AAAAA - A)
Many local jewelers use a letter grading system to educate their customers of quality. To assist our customers to relate to the jewelers grading system, we have provided an overall grade. Please see the full grading scale and description below:
||% of All Hessonite Garnet
Fine quality gems that are typically found at higher end boutiques. They have rich color, slightly included to eye clean clarity and tend to exhibit nice sparkle. These gems tend to appreciate most in value over time due to rarity and high demand.
High quality gems that are typically found in high end stores such as on 5th Avenue. They have vivid to medium color and slightly included to very slightly included eye clarity.
|AA (Very Good)
These gems typically have moderate to slightly included eye clarity. They are usually found at medium to high end jewelers.
Hessonites are easy to take care of due to their relative hardness and durability, but will need slightly more attention if it is set high in jewelry. To keep your hessonite jewelry sparkling you may want to clean it to remove the unwanted dirt and residue build up. Here are a few care tips to keeping your hessonite jewelry clean and shiny.
1) Avoid contact with make-up, harsh chemicals (i.e. chlorine and bleach), moisturizers and abrasives. Best to take jewelry off when in contact with these items. Never swim or bathe with your jewelry on. It is also best to avoid hard impact activities that may scratch or chip the hessonite such as exercising and gardening.
2) Clean your hessonite by pouring lukewarm water in a bowl and mixing with mild cleaning detergent. Submerge your jewelry until the dirty and residue is moistened. Then use a soft toothbrush to clean the underside of the hessonite. Once clean, rinse and dry with a soft cloth. For extremely dirty jewelry, you may need to repeat the process.
3) Store your hessonite jewelry individually and avoid contact with other jewelry to prevent scratching. Keep the hessonite away from heat and direct sunlight. For every day rings (such as engagement rings), we recommend a weekly rudimentary check to ensure the center gem is not loose. Take off the ring and shake next to the ear (can also tap) and see if you hear rattling. If you do, immediately stop wearing and get tightened.
4) We highly recommend an annual maintenance on your hessonite jewelry to have the gems tightened and jewelry professionally cleaned. This will ensure your jewelry lasts a lifetime.
5) Do not use commercial jewelry cleaners or ultrasonic cleaners for your Hessonite Garnet jewelry.