The Mandarin garnets belong to the spessartite group, one of the six varieties of the garnet family. They are rarer than the other species. This variety owes its name to the first known mine, in the Spessart, on the River Elbe, in Bavaria. At the beginning of the 1990S, two orange spessartite garnet mines were discovered in the north west of Namibia, near the border with Angola. There, in the Kakoaland, one thousand kilometres away from Windhoek, the climate IS very arid. Such mines produced stones of an iniquitous colour, caused by strong manganese content Other sites had already been discovered in Sri lanka, Brazil, the United States, Sweden, Madagascar, as well as in India, in Narukot, in the province of Bombay The first Namibian mine was soon mined out The second one produced no more than 189 kg of rough stone, overall, between1995 and 1999•

The gem is cut so as to reflect its maximum beauty rather than its maximum weight The Mandarins weighing more than one carat are rare. Around 65 to 70% are cut to less one carat, which does not exclude some rare specimens of 10 to 20 carats. The Mandarin garnets are available, in brilliant, oval, heart, octagonal, square, pear, marquise, trilliant cut and other fancy shapes. The translucent spessartite is also cut in cabochon.
A nice Mandarin garnet of less than one carat varies between euro 250 and 300 while the most consequent gems may easily reach price above euro 3,000; the Mandarin garnets from Namibia are the rarest and the dearest amongt the spessartites. The Asian customers have a particular interest for orange coloured stones owing to their similitude with the colour of the Buddhist monks' clothes.
The spessartite garnet of the orange found in Nigeria is relatively new Although the stones are not as orange as the Namibian ones, the orange and Mandarin garnets tend to be of bigger sizes and, well cut, they have more shine and are cleaner They tend, however, to be of a brown shade. The Nigerian garnet is a little bit cheaper although the price of the Nigerian one has increased over the last couple of years. All the other spessartites, including the new production of Madagascar and Tanzania, are no competitors against the beauty of the Namibian Mandarin garnets.
In 2004, spessartite garnets were discovered in the pegmatites in Afghanistan. They are of an orange red colour, rather dark. In Japan, the Kinko mine, in the province of Yamaguchi, is producing different qualities spessartites There will unfortunately not be enough production to enable this gem to be a classical stone in jewellery Only those jewellers with a personal original creation make use of the spessartite garnet, as well as a few jewellers who meet the demand of the collectors.
It must be considered that many conditions must be gathered so that a nice spessartrte gem may be used in an item of jewellery. There must be an amount of geological, commercial and human circumstances before the stone discovered In such hard areas may be used in a set.

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