How to Tell if Garnet is Real or Fake

How to Tell if Garnet is Real or Fake

If you’re concerned about purchasing a fake garnet, know that you’re not alone. In this Twirl Weddings guide, I’ll equip you with the knowledge and resources necessary to ensure that you only purchase genuine garnets.

How to Tell the Difference between Real Garnets vs. Fake

Real Garnet vs. Fake Garnet

Additionally, I’ll provide answers to any other inquiries you may have, such as:

  • How to differentiate natural garnets from imitation garnets
  • What exactly are composite garnets?
  • Do garnets make suitable engagement rings?

What are Garnets?

The silicate gemstone garnet has over twenty different variations. It is most frequently referred to as a red gemstone and the birthstone for January. It might be challenging to determine whether a garnet is genuine because there are synthetic garnets, actual garnets and fake garnets available today.

Rough Garnet Crystals

There are garnets all around the world, and people often use them in jewelry pieces. They can also be found in sandpaper used as typical industrial abrasives. Additionally highly popular are ornamental garnet jewelry pieces and carved garnets.

However, it might be challenging to distinguish between genuine garnets and fake ones if you aren’t conversant with garnets and gemstones in overall. Always go with a reputable shop instead of a chance Etsy and Facebook vendor when purchasing garnets.

Without further ado, I’ll show you how to determine whether the garnet you have is genuine or a fake.

Garnet Stone Types and Colors

The majority of people think of garnet gemstones as deep red gemstones that occasionally include secondary purple  or orange tones. In reality, garnet is available in a range of hues, including colorless. But the most well-known and frequently used garnets are red. The garnet family includes six primary types:

  • Uvarovite: bright green
  • Pyrope: purplish-red to dark red
  • Grossular: brown to yellow to green
  • Almandine: deep red to brownish-red
  • Andradite: black to green to brown
  • Spessartine: orange to reddish-brown

Natural garnets of various varieties might be partially pyrope and partially almandine. Blends of garnet are frequent and result in some of the most well-known varieties of garnet. A few examples of garnet variations containing mixed garnet species are rhodolite garnet, demantoid garnet, and malaia garnet.

Almandine Garnet

Real Garnet vs. Fake Garnet


Depending on the quality, size, and kind, garnet can be from a few bucks per carat to more than $500 per carat. The following are some garnet type estimation ranges:

  • Garnets from Almandine: $10 up to $50 per carat
  • 20 to 200 dollars per carat for pyrope garnets
  • Garnets with spessartine: $50 up to $300 per carat
  • From $10 up to $100 per carat for grossular garnet
  • $100 up to $500 per carat for andradite garnet
  • $50 up to $200 per carat for uvarovite garnet
Tsavorite Garnet


Rhodolite Garnet


Sadly, a gemstone doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive or valuable for there to be any fakes in the market. Fake garnets are not an exception.

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Garnet Simulants vs. Genuine Garnet

The term “fake garnets” refers to a number of materials and natural stones. Red glass is the most popular garnet imitation. Glass can also be cut and polished to resemble a wide variety of natural stones, such as sapphires, emeralds, and rubies.

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Even though the majority of garnets aren’t as expensive as precious jewels, garnet can nonetheless be mimicked. Before purchasing more pricey garnet jewelry, such as demantoid and rhodolite garnets, you should exercise caution.

Some of the most popular garnet fakes, simulants and imitations include:

  • Red spinel
  • Glass
  • Red tourmaline
  • Composite stones especially those made of partial real garnets and glass
  • Yttrium aluminum garnet – a rare colorless diamond simulant as well
Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (YAG). This is an Older Diamond Simulant
Red Spinel. This is a Popular Simulant for Red Garnets and Rubies

Additionally, spinel, rubies, and tourmaline have been imitated using red garnets. But garnets are typically used to mimic ruby, which is a relatively expensive gemstone.

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Synthetic Garnet vs. Natural Garnet Gemstone

Contrary to the name, synthetic garnets are identical to their naturally occurring counterparts in terms of both physical and chemical characteristics. Additionally, they can hardly be distinguished from real garnet. The typical consumer won’t be able to tell the difference.

The specifics of your garnet, however, may suggest that it is most likely synthetic garnet instead of a real garnet. Color zoning, inclusions, and other flaws are common in natural garnets. Garnets made of synthetic materials seem more pure and clear. They also cost less and are larger.

However, if you’re looking to purchase a higher-quality garnet, it’s possible that you won’t notice inclusions to distinguish it from a man-made gemstones. In that situation, you’ll need to exercise due diligence and ensure that the garnet is authenticated by a reputable gemological grading laboratory.

Selected by a GIA certified Gemologist, the best degree in the jewelry business

The Tests to determine whether a Garnet is Genuine

Are you wondering whether the garnet stones on your hand are genuine or fake? There are a number of techniques that can distinguish a genuine garnets from fake ones. While a few tests may need specialized equipment, there are others that you can complete at home or through observation.

Hardness Scratch Test

A standard test for a number of fake gemstones is the scratch test. On the mineral hardness scale, popularly referred to as the Mohs scale, every mineral and gemstone has a rating. The Mohs hardness scale determines how scratch-resistant a mineral is.

It is generally accepted that minerals with a hardness rating of 7 or higher are appropriate for everyday wear. Depending on the garnet blend and species, a genuine garnet stone will range from 6.5 to 7.5 on the hardness scale.

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You need a specific tool (or equipment) to test the possible garnet stone’s scratch resistance in order to complete the scratch test. Useful tools include steel nails and other steel objects. Steel is 5.5 on the hardness scale. Even glass, as it has a hardness rating of 6, is workable.

Scratch the prospective garnet with the nail. The stone is not a genuine garnet if it can be scratched. If the gemstone doesn’t scrape, it has a greater degree of hardness and might actually be a garnet.

Note that the scratch test only cannot distinguish between fake and real garnets. The hardness of several red minerals is higher than that of steel. Additionally, it is unable to reveal the composition of the garnet stone.

In order to distinguish between real garnets and fraudulent ones, many tests should be conducted, including the scratch test.

mohs hardness scale

Refractive Index

Jewelry experts and gemologists use a variety of tools to identify gemstones, one of which is the refractive index of the stone. A refractometer is required for you to do this test.

A gemstone’s refractive index describes how light that travels through a stone can be bent. Each gemstone has a spectrum of refractive indices. The values of garnet’s refractive index might vary slightly depending on the stone’s composition, cut, and color.

Here’s a highlight of different refractive indices of the most common types of authentic garnets:

  • Almandine Garnet: 1.79-1.83
  • Demantoid Garnet: 1.88-1.94
  • Tsavorite Garnet: 1.74-1.76
  • Andradite Garnet: 1.87-1.94
  • Hessonite Garnet: 1.74-1.75
  • Rhodolite Garnet: 1.76-1.81
  • Spessartine Garnet: 1.79-1.81
  • Grossular Garnet: 1.73-1.80
  • Demantoid Garnet: 1.88-1.94
  • Pyrope Garnet: 1.73-1.76

Ensure the garnet is clean before using a refractometer to measure its potential. Before testing, carefully dry off any dirt.

  • The refractometer should be set to the garnet type you believe the stone to be.
  • Add a drop of the liquid used for refractive testing to the refractometer.
  • Hold the prospective garnet firmly against it so that light can travel through the rock.
  • View the refractive index reading through the eyepiece. The refractive index of natural garnets will range from 1.72 and 1.94.

It is not a genuine garnet if the rating falls outside of this range. This test is limited to recognizing genuine garnet; it cannot identify manufactured garnet. It’s not intended to be used in isolation as a true sign of genuine garnet, but rather in conjunction with the other tests presented here.

Absorption Spectrum

Another test for identifying gemstones and minerals is this one. A spectroscope is an additional set of equipment needed. This device has the capacity to distinguish between the many colors of light. You must hold your garnet stone close to a source of light, such as a desk lamp or your phone.

Look into the eyepiece of the spectroscope when it is placed close to the garnet. The stone’s absorption spectrum will consist of a number of lines. To determine the garnet, compare the spectrum to a table of garnet absorption spectrum values.

Additional Signs of Fake Garnets

Numerous techniques that can determine whether a garnet stone is real have the drawback of requiring specialized equipment. You probably won’t want to invest the money to purchase the tools necessary to verify whether a red stone is a genuine gem if you’re a casual rock hunter or if you inherited it.

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You would be better off taking it to any nearby jeweler for identification in that situation. Chain stores that sell fine jewelry don’t have this sort of equipment, and the majority of their staff aren’t familiar with the testing either. Look for a bench jeweler that specializes in locating stones and producing unique pieces.

A garnet’s authenticity can be determined without doing the scratch test or the magnetic test by merely looking at its characteristics. Although you can accomplish a lot with just your eyes, having a jewelry loupe or magnifying glass will help you see things more clearly.


Pay close attention to your garnet stone. Check the stone for cracks and inclusions. Even while some types of garnet stones can be flawless to the naked eye (i.e., eye-clean), there ought to be some little imperfections when magnified.

It might be a synthetic garnet or built with other different materials if the stone appears to be too flawless.

The second test you can perform just needs a lighter, which is a generally simple item to buy. Unlike many of its imitations, garnets can withstand fire.

You must plunge the stone into a cold cup of water right away after carefully holding the lighter flame against the stone for a short period of time. It’s not a genuine garnet if the stone has cracks in it. It might be made of minerals or glass.

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Similar to this, you may determine if a stone is genuine by placing it in a kettle of boiling water and watching to see if the color changes.

A magnet can be used to test the stone’s magnetic properties. Genuine garnet gemstones are not magnets. If a magnet is drawn to it, it might be a manufactured gem called magnetic iron garnet.

18K Yellow Gold Rhodolite Garnet



The typical person finds it challenging to determine whether garnet is genuine. A few tests must be carried out, but a few of them involve gemological tools that the majority of us do not possess or have around our houses.

As long as you stick with reputable sellers, you shouldn’t have too much concern about encountering imitation or fake garnet in the market for exquisite jewelry. Brilliant Earth is where I like to purchase real garnet stones.

Most jewelers sell the four valuable stones only— diamonds, sapphire, emerald, and ruby, emerald albeit in loose form. Garnet is one of the many loose semi-precious gemstones available from Brilliant Earth.

Through a reputable and ethical shop, you can design a customized garnet engagement ring while viewing the stones in 360-degree virtual reality, superimposing them on your own hand. Additionally, each garnet is certified, so there is no concern about purchasing a fake.

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