Rhodolite - A Garnet Variation
Firstly, Rhodolite belongs to the group of gemstones called Garnets, this is a wide group of gemstones, with over 30 different types or classifications. For a long time, garnets were called the red gemstones; the gemstones have a primary tendency to have a red color, and this is the reason for this nickname. They been used for decorative purposes for over 5000 years. They were favorites of pharaohs since the year 3100 BC, and were used as inlaid jewelry, and also as beads. The gem resembles pomegranate seeds and this led to its naming. The name is derived from the Latin word Granatus, which translates to grain or seed.
A brief history of Rhodolite
The garnets were called the Queen of gemstones, and Rhodolite can be called the queen of the garnets. In 1882, In a county called Macon, North Carolina, a gemologist by the name of George Frederick Kunz, discovered Rhodolite; he named it thus since it resembled the rhododendron, which grew abundantly in this area. He said that it was pale rose-red in color, bordering on purple; this is a characteristic that is common to many roses and rhododendrons. For over 2000 years, Rhodolite has been mined in Sri Lanka, although the deposits in North Carolina were completely depleted by 1901. Today, Rhodolite is mined in Kenya, Brazil, Madagascar, Malawi and Tanzania; Sri Lanka and Tanzania are the primary sources of this gemstone.
The composition of Rhodolite
Rhodolite, like some other garnets, is actually a composition of 2 pure types of garnets, namely Almandine and Pyrope. When it comes to color, Rhodolite does not bear the deep red color of traditional garnets, but comes in various degrees of pink and purple. The main reason behind this is the different percentages in the combinations of Pyrope and Almandine, and this brings about a stone that has a high degree of brilliance and transparency. The purple hue gives it a royal ambience, which is very desirable among gemstone aficionados. If the tone is too dark, then the beauty, transparency and jewelry value are lost.
The transparency of Rhodolite is very important, and it has minor inclusions which makes it a type II gemstone, because the inclusions can be seen with the naked eye. Jewelers usually avoid Rhodolite stones which have a silky or cloudy appearance since this spoils the beauty of the stone. People prefer stones which have a high level of transparency, an acceptable level of inclusions, and a beautiful patina. There are no major differences between Rhodolite stones, irrespective of their origin; although the origin does affect popularity of the stones, it does not speak to the quality.
The uses of Rhodolite Gemstones
This stone has a very beautiful sheen and this is why it is favored for jewelry purposes. It is relatively cheap when compared to other gemstones of the same color. A good stone with plenty of transparency, clarity, and brilliance will serve well as a decorative piece. It has the effect of setting off the color in people with blue eyes. It is said to promote peace and tranquility, and it is also called the January Stone, signifying a new beginning.
In the past, there was very little respect for the red and pink stones, since they resembled jewelry that would be worn by school children and the like. However, after the stones were found to show great jewelry potential especially in sizes below 5 carats, they have moved up the scale; this is because, in these sizes, the stones started exhibiting fascinating purple and oink colors, which are favored for jewelry. They are giving rubellite tourmalines a run for their money, they are just as beautiful and cost a fraction of the price. Rhodolite has been used for decorative purposes for centuries, and this is not about to come to an end.
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