Roskin Gem News Report

The Dragon Garnet

by Gary Roskin, exclusive for the Roskin Gem News Report

Dragon Garnet

So, what is Dragon Garnet?

What is it?

Basically, Dragon Garnet is a Malaya garnet that has a color shift along with strong red fluorescence to Long Wave Ultraviolet.

We came across the stone quite by accident in Tucson at the 22nd Street Tent show. We were passing by a booth and the rich green color of the demantoid garnet in the front case screamed at us to stop and take a closer look.

This is where we met Ales Krivanek, owner of Ravenstein Gem Company. https://ravenstein-germany.com

He then proceeded to tell us about Dragon Garnet. It’s a pyrope spessartine (with a little bit of almandine) falling into the Malaya garnet category.

A Little Science Please

We had Stone Group Labs run Raman and XRF to confirm the Malaya designation. These garnets have Chromium, Vanadium, and a little bit of Iron. (This is a critical piece of information which might just explain the fluorescence).

Confirmed: The onboard data notes that it is mostly in the realm of a Malaya garnet, but nicely suggests it has a certain percentage of Chrome Pyrope (Cr and Fe), and Spessartite (Mn). This makes perfect sense.  The little bit of almandine (Fe) is not enough to quench the fluorescence. 

Courtesy of Stone Group Labs
Courtesy of Stone Group Labs

We ended up buying a 0.29 ct. octagonal brilliant full of low relief rounded crystals, needles, and strong red fluorescence. Krivanek included a small 0.4 gram piece of rough, semi transparent due to the over-abundance of needle like inclusions.

Magnetic: These garnets were able to be dragged across the counter with REE (Rare Earth Elements) magnets in a fashion similar to that of most of the pyralspite series of garnets.

The Literature

We were made aware of two articles written for GIA’s Gems & Gemology, sub heading Micro-World, Summer and Winter issues for 2022, talking about blue apatite crystals found in garnet from southern Tanzania. The first, Blue Apatite in Tanzanian Garnet, written by E. Billie Hughes, shows a pyrope-spessartine garnet, reportedly from Lindi Province, Tanzania. The second, Garnet with Apatite Inclusions, written by Jessa Rizzo, Nathan Renfro, and Ziyin Sun, also a Pyrope Spessartite, … and purchased from Ravenstein. While my 0.29 carater does not contain blue apatite crystals, this material is all the same, a “delicate purplish-pink color, and fairly strong red fluorescence. …”

Photomicrograph by Nathan Renfro; copyright GIA

Garnet with Apatite Inclusions
written by Jessa Rizzo, Nathan Renfro, and Ziyin Sun

Blue Apatite in Tanzanian Garnet
written by E. Billie Hughes

Magnetism in Gemstones
An Effective Tool and Method for Gem Identification

written by Kirk Feral 2011

UV-Vis Absorption Spectra and 3D Fluorescence Spectra Study of Color-Change Garnet with Red Fluorescence
written by LIU Cui-hong1, CHEN Chao-yang1, SHAO Tian1, LI Zhi-bin2, Andy Hsitien Shen1*

The Name

In an interview with Ales Krivanek, he revealed that the name “Dragon Garnet” came from social media participation. After this southern Tanzanian garnet’s discovery in approximately March of last year, 2022, Ravenstein sent emails to thousands of customers, asking them to name this “new” garnet, with its color shift and bright red fluorescence. Krivanek had a couple of submissions that acquired their inspiration from what we believe was the children’s film, “How to Train Your Dragon,” where the dragons’ eyes change color with their mood. We also assume that the fluorescence has been compared to a dragon’s ability to breathe fire.

Production

The amount of garnets already produced is unknown, and the prospect for more just depends on Mother Nature.

“This is an alluvial source,” says Krivanek. “One never knows. There’s no way to predict.” There was a second source discovered about 6  months after this first deposit, with identical looking material and having the same fluorescence.

“The area has been producing identical looking Malaya, but straight up Malaya. Some color shifting, but none had the UV reactive quality.”

Quantity and sizes are quite limited. “I have small rough. Of the cuttable material, 90% to 95% of the material is small, finished below 60 points … It’s mostly cutting under a carat sizes. This is similar to demantoid where when they get above a carat, they are rare. Above 2 carats or even 3 carats, they could be museum pieces.”

Controlling the Market

“If you lease or purchase the land, you have the potential of controlling the product,” says Krivanek. But the property where these mine sites exist are tribal lands, and are therefore not for sale and not commercial operations.

These alluvial deposits are mined by artisanal miners, and depending on the size of the deposit, depends on the numbers of miners that can participate in the mining process. This also affects how quickly the mine is depleted.

“Most alluvial deposits will last for a year or so,” says Krivanek. “Some might last only a few weeks. Some may last for several years. It just depends on Mother Nature.”

Krivanek tries to monopolize the supply by working with as many artisanal miners as possible. But there will be those who work with other buyers, so he doesn’t have complete control over any one stone. Once the stones are unearthed, if they do not come to him, then they are either taken to “runners” or directly to Arusha and sold there. It is common for the miners to sell to whomever comes to the mine.

The Rest of the Story

While this deposit is new, and there have reportedly been others found just recently, there are single stones that were in the literature decades ago that appear to have the same properties. Because of their limited availability, these were simply unusual finds. With the current production making it commercially available for the first time, we feel comfortable saying that this is a “new” find.

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