Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January and comprises a group of minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age for use as adornments.
The name Garnet itself, comes from the Latin word “granum” meaning “grain”, which relates to the gemstone’s shape and its similarity to red pomegranate seeds.
Red Garnet – the best known form of garnet – is relatively inexpensive and therefore makes an excellent alternative to the more expensive ruby. Garnet rings are therefore ideal for promise rings, engagement rings or as a January birthstone gift.
Although red garnet is a popular color for use in jewelry, garnets can also be found in other colors, such as fiery orange, brown and pink, as well as the rarer and more expensive “Blue Change” garnets and the Tsavorite green garnets.
The gemstone was particularly popular in 18th and 19th century Europe when Bohemian garnet jewelry was very much in fashion.
The Garnet Stone
All the stones in this group of minerals are Silicates. This group comprises 4 main varieties: the Almandite Garnet, the Andradite Garnet, the Hessonite Garnet and the Pyrope Garnet. All these gemstones have different chemical formulas:
- Almandite Garnets : silicates of iron and aluminium and tend to be purplish red;
- Andradite Garnets: silicates of calcium and iron and are green;
- Hessonite Garnets: silicates of calcium and aluminium and are a brownish red
- Pyrope Garnets silicates of magnesium and aluminium have a firey red color.
On Moh’s hardness scale, the garnet has a hardness between 6.5 and 7.5, which is why historically, the opaque variaties have also been used as abrasives. This also makes them excellent gemstones to wear as they are sturdy and resistant to everyday wear and tear.
Garnets have been known for thousands of years and were worn as jewels by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The garnet stone was commonly worn as a talisman as it was believed to protect people from harm.
Garnets were viewed by the ancients as “Earth” or “Power” stones. Their ability to reflect light well led to the belief that they could protect against the forces of evil.
In recent years, the Garnet has been known as the stone for a successful business. It is claimed that, if your business is not doing as well as it should be, just put 3 or more garnets on your desk and Hey Presto! your fortunes will improve. Similarly, it is believed that if a garnet is put under your pillow it will cure depression.
Garnets can be used to make a person popular and have self-esteem when worn as jewelry. Garnets also bring constancy to friendships. Here are 3 rings from our Garnet selection.
Garnets as Jewelry
Although Garnets are hard, durable stones, have pretty colors and reflect light well, many people consider garnets to be inferior to other colored gems. This is quite likely due to the fact that they are relatively common and much less expensive that other gemstones. However, there are some rarer garnets which are considerably more expensive. Some of these are: Tsavorite, Spessartite, Rhodolite and the Blue Color Change Garnets.
Tsavorite: derives from the Andradite Garnet variety and comes from The Tanzania/Kenya borders in Africa. Tsavorites are an intense medium green color that sometimes resemble emeralds – although their rarity makes them more expensive than a mid quality emerald.
Spessartite, has a distinctive orange-red color due to the influence of manganese and in its redder version, by iron also. This particular garnet is mined in Nigeria, Namibia and Mozambique.
Rhodolite, was named after the rhododendron flower because of its beautiful pink to violet red color. The best quality pink Rhodolites are mined in Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Blue Color Change Garnet: this very rare garnet contains high amounts of Vanadium and displays a dramatic color change from blue-green in the daylight to a purple violet when viewed in incandescent light. This garnet has a color intensity even greater than the expensive Alexandrite. The Blue Color Change Garnet was only discovered in the late 1990s in Madagascar but has now been found in parts of Russia, Turkey and the United States.
Sources of Garnet
The world’s largest supplier of garnets is the continent of Africa. Other sources of garnets include India, the Soviet Union, Brazil and the United States.
There are several states in the USA that have commercial production of gem garnets-for example, Arizona. Others are North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, California, Tennessee, Montana, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Maines and Nevada,
For example, Arizona: red pyrope is mined from two locations in the extreme northern portion of Apache County on the Navajo Indian Reservation. One location is at Garnet Ridge which is about 8 km west of the town of Mexican Water, and the other location is in Buell Park on the Arizona and New Mexico border, about 16 km north of Fort Defiance. Faceted stones cut from materials from these locations average 1/2 to 1-1/2 carats in size, but stones as large as 5 carats are known from these locations. Additionally, fine-quality andradite specimens, some suitable for cutting, are available from an area near Stanley in Graham Co.
Garnets and Healing
As with many gemstones, garnets are used by some people for their healing properties.
The Red Garnet is associated with the thyroid and spleen and is considered to be able to help cleanse and purify both when held over the area.
There is also a spiritual link between Red Garnet and meditation; the Garnet is held in the hand or placed on top of the head and is believed to help, when searching or meditating on past lives.
Reference: Chart – Gorgeous Garnets – www.ghmoore.co.uk