Garnetis derived from the Latin word “granum” meaning “grain”. This refers to the typically rounded shape of Garnet and also reminiscent of the seeds of the pomegranate. Garnets have been widely known for thousands of years. Even Noah, it is reported, used a lantern from garnet in order to safely steer his Ark through the darkness of the night. Although the color red occurs most frequently, there are also garnets showing different shades of green, pale to bright yellow, blue, blue-green, fiery orange and fine earth- and umbra-shades.The excellent hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs’ scale explains, why these gemstones are so excellent to wear. Garnets are quite sturdy and resistant to everyday wear and tear, and uncomplicated to work into jewelry. Garnet is the January birthstone.
Although the color red is occurs most frequently, there are also garnets showing different shades of green, pale to bright yellow, fiery orange and fine earth- and umbra-shades. Blue is the only color that is not available in Garnet. Color change garnets are mostly pyrope and spessartite in composition.
The colorful members of the garnet group:
Pyrope, red garnet, frequently with brown tint
Rhodolite, purplish red or rose-color garnet
Almandite, red garnet with violet tint
Spessartite, orange to red-brown garnet. The best specimen comes from Namibia and is called “Mandarin Spessartine”.
Grossularite, colorless, green, yellow, brown garnet
Hydrogrossular, dense, opaque greenish variety of grossularite
Hessonite, brown-red variety of garnet
Leuco garnet, colorless variety of grossularite
Tsavorite, green to emerald green garnet
Andradite, black, brown, yellow-brown garnet
Demantoid, the most valuable garnet, green to emerald green
Melanite, opaque black variety of andradite
Tapazolite, yellow to lemon yellow, topaz-like variety of andradite
Uvarovite, emerald green garnet that rarely occurs in gemstone quality.
A saturated dark red is first what comes to mind if garnet color is considered. The trend is shifting. A demantoid with its emerald green color is today’s most valuable garnet. That applies as well for the emerald green tsavorite, whose quality can reach flawlessness.
It is commonly said that garnets come in every color of the rainbow except blue. This is still true in natural light, but there are recent discoveries of garnets that turn blue in artificial light.
Garnets are in general very clean gems. Almandine garnets sometimes have asbestos fiber inclusions. These will produce four-ray, rarely six-ray, star stones when properly cut. They are highly prized by collectors, because of their rarity. Andradites are known for their distinctive, horsetail inclusions.
Garnets qualify for any cut and come in various shapes.
Garnet location and deposits
Pyrope: China, Madagascar, Myanmar, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA
Rhodolite: Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, USA
Almandite: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and the United States. Smaller deposits exist in Austria and the Czech Republic. Almandine garnet star-stones are found in India and the United States (Idaho).
Spessartite: Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Myanmar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA. The best specimens come from Namibia and are called “Mandarin Spessartine (Spessartite) ”
Grossularite: Canada, Kenya, Mali, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA
Hydrogrossular: Myanmar, South Africa, Zambia
Hessonite: Brazil, Canada, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA
Leuco garnet: Canada, Mexico, Tanzania
Tsavorite: Kenya, Tanzania
Demantoid: China, Korea, Russia, USA, Zaire
Melanite: France, Germany, Italy, USA
Tapazolite: Italy, Switzerland, USA
Uvarovite: Canada, Finland, India, Poland, Russia, USA
Common Garnet treatments
Garnet is not artificially enhanced in any way.
At the auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis at Sotheby’s on April 24, 1996, a striking cabochon garnet flower brooch from the 19th century was sold for $145,000. In the same year a university student unearthed in central Australia what is believed to be the largest single garnet find ever. This giant rough is thought to weight thousands of tons and measures nearly a hundred feet across.
Color: Colorless, all colors
Crystal system: (Cubic) rhombic dodecahedron, icositetrahedon
Hardness: 7-7.5 (Mohs scale)
Color of streak: White
Fluorescence: Mostly none
Chemical composition, specific gravity, refractive index, birefringence and absorption spectrum are different for the various members of the garnet group.
The Garnet zodiac, myth & legend
Garnets have been widely known for thousands of years. Even Noah, it is reported, used a lantern from garnet in order to safely steer his Ark through the darkness of the night. Garnets are found in jewelry from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras. Many courageous discoverers and travelers wore Garnets for protection, as they were considered popular talismans and protective stones, because it was believed in those days that Garnets illuminate the night and prevent their wearer from any sort of evil.
Garnet is the birthstone for those who are born in January. On the Zodiac chart, it is listed as the stone for Aquarius.
In Antiquity, as well as in the Middle Ages people believed that the cosmos is reflected in gemstones. The garnet is assigned to the planets Mars, Mercury and Pluto. The esoteric movement revived the ancient belief and the gem industry made it another marketing tool to promote certain gems.
The healing powers of gems remain a controversial issue, but are mentioned for centuries by healers, shamans and medicine men. Whether it’s a fact or a placebo effect doesn’t matter, if it helps. The safest approach is to wear the gemstone in skin contact to the troubled part of the body. Garnet is said to be of help for arthritis, pancreas, varicose veins and problems with testicles and toenails.