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Where is Demantoid Garnet Found?

by Madonna

Garnets are a fascinating group of minerals celebrated for their rich colors and historical significance. Among them, demantoid garnet stands out as one of the most valued and rare varieties. Known for its dazzling green hues and exceptional brilliance, demantoid garnet has captured the hearts of gem enthusiasts and collectors around the world. In this article, we will explore the origins of demantoid garnet, detailing its primary sources, geological formation, and the unique qualities that make it so sought after.

Understanding Demantoid Garnet

Before diving into where demantoid garnet is found, it’s essential to understand what makes this gem so special. Demantoid is a variety of andradite garnet, characterized by its remarkable dispersion and fire, which rival those of diamonds. The name “demantoid” itself is derived from the Dutch word for diamond, “demant,” a nod to its diamond-like luster and brilliance.


Historical Significance

Demantoid garnet was first discovered in the mid-19th century in the Ural Mountains of Russia. Its stunning green color and exceptional brilliance quickly made it a favorite among Russian royalty and European jewelers. Today, Russian demantoids are still highly prized for their vibrant hues and historical value, although new sources have since been discovered around the world.


Primary Sources of Demantoid Garnet


The Ural Mountains of Russia are historically the most famous source of demantoid garnet. Discovered in the 19th century, these deposits are renowned for producing some of the finest demantoids, known for their deep green color and characteristic inclusions called “horsetails.” These horsetail inclusions, composed of byssolite (a type of asbestos), are highly sought after as they are considered proof of authenticity and add to the gem’s value.


Russian demantoids are typically found in metamorphic rocks such as serpentinite. Mining in the Ural region has seen ups and downs, with periods of intense activity followed by decline. However, Russian demantoids remain a benchmark for quality and are a staple in high-end jewelry.


In the late 20th century, a new source of demantoid garnet was discovered in Namibia. The deposits near the town of Erongo have become significant contributors to the global supply of this gem. Namibian demantoids are noted for their bright green color, often with a slight yellowish or brownish tint.

The geological conditions in Namibia differ from those in Russia. Namibian demantoids are typically found in skarn deposits, which form at the contact zones between igneous and carbonate rocks. This unique geological setting results in demantoids with distinct characteristics, sometimes lacking the horsetail inclusions found in Russian stones but still highly valued for their color and clarity.


Madagascar is another notable source of demantoid garnet, discovered more recently. The demantoids from Madagascar often exhibit a vibrant green color, comparable to those from Russia and Namibia. They are primarily found in the alluvial deposits of the Antsiranana province in the northern part of the island.

The geological conditions in Madagascar are conducive to producing high-quality demantoid garnets. These gems are typically mined from riverbeds and secondary deposits, where they have been naturally sorted and concentrated by water action. The stones from Madagascar are appreciated for their size and color, making them a popular choice for jewelers and collectors.


Italy, particularly the Val Malenco region in the Alps, is a lesser-known but historically significant source of demantoid garnet. Italian demantoids are distinguished by their olive-green to yellow-green colors and are often found in metamorphic rocks associated with serpentine.

Italian demantoid garnets were discovered in the early 20th century, and although they are not as widely recognized as those from Russia or Namibia, they have a unique charm and historical value. These stones are typically smaller in size but can exhibit excellent clarity and brilliance.

Geological Formation of Demantoid Garnet

Understanding the geological formation of demantoid garnet provides insight into why these gems are found in specific locations. Demantoid garnets form under high-pressure and high-temperature conditions, typically in metamorphic environments. The presence of chromium and iron in the geological environment is crucial for the formation of the green color characteristic of demantoid garnets.

In Russia, demantoids are commonly associated with serpentinized ultramafic rocks. The interaction of these rocks with hydrothermal fluids leads to the formation of the garnet-bearing skarns. In Namibia, the demantoid-bearing skarns form at the contact zones between granitic intrusions and carbonate rocks. In Madagascar, the alluvial deposits concentrate the garnets that have weathered out of their primary sources.

Unique Qualities of Demantoid Garnet

Demantoid garnet’s unique qualities make it one of the most desirable gemstones in the world. Its high dispersion, often referred to as “fire,” allows it to display a dazzling array of colors when viewed under light. This characteristic, combined with its vibrant green hue, gives demantoid garnet a brilliance comparable to that of diamonds.

The presence of horsetail inclusions is another distinctive feature of some demantoid garnets, particularly those from Russia. These inclusions, resembling fine, radiating fibers, are composed of byssolite and are considered a hallmark of authenticity and quality. While not all demantoids have these inclusions, their presence can significantly enhance the gem’s value and appeal.

See Also: The Rarity of Demantoid Garnet

Challenges in Mining and Supply

Mining demantoid garnet presents several challenges, contributing to its rarity and value. The geological conditions required for its formation are relatively rare, and the gem is often found in remote and difficult-to-access locations. Furthermore, the mining process itself can be labor-intensive and environmentally sensitive, particularly in regions like the Ural Mountains and the Namibian desert.

The supply of demantoid garnet is also influenced by market demand and geopolitical factors. For example, political instability or changes in mining regulations in producing countries can impact the availability of these gems on the international market. This volatility can lead to fluctuations in prices and availability, adding to the allure and exclusivity of demantoid garnet.


Demantoid garnet, with its captivating green color and exceptional brilliance, is a gem that has fascinated collectors and jewelers for over a century. Found in select locations around the world, including Russia, Namibia, Madagascar, and Italy, each source offers unique qualities that contribute to the gem’s overall appeal. The geological processes that create demantoid garnet are complex and rare, adding to the gem’s mystique and value.

Whether adorned with the characteristic horsetail inclusions or exhibiting a pure, vibrant green hue, demantoid garnet remains a symbol of beauty and rarity. Its journey from deep within the Earth to the hands of skilled jewelers is a testament to the wonders of nature and the enduring allure of gemstones. For those fortunate enough to own or admire a demantoid garnet, it represents not only a piece of natural history but also a connection to the rich tapestry of geological and cultural heritage.


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