Hessonite is the easiest stone to identify, even for a beginner. All you need is a 10fold lens.
Hessonite, and only hessonite, displays so-called ‘swirls’, a crystal with liquid currents, or strings of colored resin, intertwined roots. As a detail, they are visible only under the lens, but give the gem an overall fuzzy or treacly glowing character. Our close-up-images always show the swirls and they are fun to study under the lens. They can be thick and heavy, bordering almost to color zoning, but they can also be delicate tender and barely perceptible.
Those with thin swirls, bright colors and transparent body display attractive luster, though not like his sibling demantoid, the other grossular garnet with fame and glory that beats diamond with its high dispersion.
Hessonites are a part of human history, they are mentioned in the bible and play side-roles in of many ancient legends, mostly as dragon- or snake-eyes. Astrologers and healers in India call it Gomedhaka or short Gomedh. It is deadly popular there. A whole esoteric community, with its commercial outgrowth, is built around hessonite.
In the west, hessonite is, like padparadscha or chrysoberyl, commonly connected with Sri Lanka, or the old 'Ceylon', but they are also found in east Africa and some other small locations.
Their color spectrum reaches from brick-red, to cinnamon, golden yellow, and orange, at times mixing of other garnet varieties, like andratite or spessartine.
As a jewelry stone they have gained a lot more attention over the last decade. Pure vivid red and bright orange gems lead the pricelist. Darker shades, cinnamon and Bordeaux red hessonite have a sleepy aspect, are beautiful as colored gem but not especially brilliant.
Esoteric sellers regularly warn of synthetic hessonite, but I’m not sure it has been synthesized, at least I can't find any proof of it. Enlighten me, if you have different information.
Due to the brutal price competition which the multitude of Indian sellers exert on this specific variety and the steady supply from Sri Lanka, hessonite has never been too expensive, though it does not pay the rent for the miners.
Personally, I have always been a hessonite fan. There are tons of terribly cut dark red-brown hessonites out there, a few bucks per gem, mainly because for healing a gem must not be pretty.
However, a precision cut bright red-orange or golden-yellow hessonite belongs to the most exciting adventures the gem kingdom has on offer. Trust me.