What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word garnet?
Most people associate garnet with a deep red colour but I am delighted to share that the garnet colour range also includes green, orange and purple shades.
If you were born in January (or not) would you choose a rich, deep red garnet or perhaps a wonderful purplish red variety for a custom-made piece? A gentle yellowish green with unique inclusions or a vibrant orange?
Let's begin with some fun facts:
In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp documents
Red garnets are the most abundant type of garnets available
The word garnet comes from the medieval Latin "granatus", meaning “pomegranate”
In the 1500s, garnets were discovered in central Europe (now, the Czech Republic) and were known as Bohemian garnets
Most garnets are transparent, show a strong colour and do not have many inclusions
Unlike other gemstones, garnets are rarely treated and are not produced synthetically i.e. are not created in a lab
According to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America):
“There are more than 20 garnet species and only 5 of them are considered commercially important as gems”.
As these 5 species are further subdivided into several varieties, the gemmology behind garnets becomes overwhelming. Honestly, it is easier to think of garnets in terms of their colours.
Let’s take a closer look at some different garnets below.
Pyrope-Almandite is the name given to most of the red garnets on the market today. They range in colour from brownish orange to rich brownish red and are readily available in all sorts of shapes and sizes. With such a great variety to choose from, you can find a red garnet for any occasion! Anyone fancies a heart shape? I once had an order for heart shape garnet earrings, they turned out beautifully.
Having spent a lot of time in Prague, Czech Republic, I saw hundreds of jewellery stores that sell these deep red gemstones, although most of them come from neighbouring Poland. Other deposits are located in Thailand, Brazil, Tanzania and Mozambique. True Bohemian or Czech garnets are tiny pyrope garnets that are often pavé set.
Rhodolite ranges in colour from dark purplish red to lovely raspberry shades.
It is plentiful, readily available and fairly inexpensive, although typically slightly more expensive than red garnets.
First discovered in North Carolina, USA in the 1880s, this source was depleted by early 1900s. Since then, Tanzania, Madagascar and Sri Lanka have become the main sources of rhodolite garnets.
Spessartite (also known as spessartine) is the most popular orange garnet and ranges in colour from yellowish orange to dark brownish red.
It was named after Spessart district of Bavaria, Germany where it was first discovered.
Spessartite started off as a collector’s stone but has become more widely available since new deposits have been discovered in Nigeria, Brazil and Sri Lanka.
Demantoid garnet is a yellowish green variety that was first discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1850s. They became popular with the Russian nobility and Tsar Nicolas II, who commissioned it for his wife’s jewellery, made by famous designers like Fabergé .
Even George Kunz, Tiffany & Co.’s chief gem buyer fell in love with this unique stone and bought all he they could get.
The Russian deposit has mostly been depleted and production consists of small sizes and very limited availability. Other deposits have been found in Namibia, Iran and Mexico.
Take a look at these horsetail inclusions (long, fiber-like wisps), they are one-of-a-kind and help us identify the stone as a demantoid garnet. Not all demantoid garnets have these inclusions but they are highly desirable by customers and collectors.
Tiny demantoid garnets also became a staple in Victorian and Edwardian jewellery.
Do you know what jewellery era you are from?
Visit this post to find out!
Tsavorite is another example of a green garnet. It is a vibrant green gem that was discovered in Tanzania in the1960s and was originally known as grossularite. It was later re-named after Tsavo National Park, located near a deposit in Kenya. Tiffany & Co. began to sell it as tsavorite in 1974.
This bright gemstone is the most expensive member of the garnet family and can rival a deep green colour of fine emeralds.
Rarity of each type of garnet has a direct impact on its value. Tsavorite is very rare and difficult to source in sizes over 2 carat and in case of demantoid, even smaller.
This tsavorite below is exceptional!
Want to learn more about what goes on inside a gemstone?
Check out my previous post: Let’s get some clarity on gemstone inclusions
Garnet is also know for the following traits:
a “stone of health”
extracts negative energy
provides spiritual protection
brings passion and strength
excellent tool for increasing creativity
Do you know what powers and qualities your birthstone holds?
Visit my previous post titled Beauty and Power to find out!
In terms of hardness, garnets range between 6.5 - 7.5 on Moh's scale.
With sapphires and rubies at 9 and diamonds at 10, these can scratch your garnet if not stored properly or if they rub against each other.
Although I would not recommend garnets for engagement rings, they make a great and affordable option for large cocktail rings and other jewellery such as pendants and earrings.
For a safe and easy way to clean your garnet jewellery, simply use a soft toothbrush and soapy water.
For more tips visit my previous post:
Is garnet on your wish list? Tsarina Gems will be delighted to hear about it!
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