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Hessonite is the yellowish to brownish-red variety of grossularite, which is itself one of the six fundamental species of garnet. The gem’s distinctive coloration is due to the presence of trace iron atoms within grossularite’s crystal structure, and gives rise to the variety’s alternative name of “cinnamon stone”.

As hessonite has a lower measurable hardness (7.0) and density than most other varieties of garnet, its name is derived from the Greek word for “inferior”. In addition, hessonites tend to possess fairly low levels of clarity when compared to most other faceted gem materials, due to unique treacle-like turbulence that is often present within the stones.

While Sri Lanka, Brazil and Madagascar are the world’s primary hessonite sources, smaller deposits are also found in Canada, Tanzania and California.