When we think of garnets, most of us probably visualize a pretty red gem, right? “Garnet” derives from middle Latin granatus, or “pomegranate,” referring to its juicy red color, reminiscent of pomegranate seeds. But, while red is the most common garnet color, it comes in a fascinating array of almost every color of the rainbow!
Types Of Garnet
Only in the 20th century was it discovered that garnets come in colors other than red and actually constitute a group of minerals with similar molecular and crystal structure, basically the same but for the end molecular atoms, which determine the different colors.
Five types (pyrope, almandite, spessartine, andradite and grossularite) are important gems:
- Pyrope, from Greek pyrōpos, or “fiery-eyed”, ranges from purplish to ruby-like red. Red pyropes can be almost indistinguishable from rubies. Rhodolite is a varietal name for rich purplish red or dark pink pyrope.
- Almandite tends toward a slightly brownish-red. It is the most plentiful and affordable type and the one most often associated with the term “garnet”.
- Spessartine comes in orange and yellow, and today is often called “Mandarin” for its rich orange.
- Andradite appears mostly in yellows and greens (demantoid for example).
- Grossularite has perhaps the widest range, colorless to yellow to reddish orange and orangey red, and a strong vibrant green variety, tsavorite.
Benefits Of Garnet Jewelry
Throughout the ages, garnet was reputed to confer physical and mental health benefits. According to Jyotish (Indian astrology), garnet helps eliminate depression, anger and guilt, and promote greater self-confidence, mental
acuity, creativity and serenity. Since records were kept, garnets were also believed to cure inflammatory diseases.
The History Of Garnet Jewelry
Since the Bronze Age, garnets have been worn as gems. Ancient pharaohs sported garnet necklaces. Romans wore signet rings with garnet intaglios to stamp the wax that sealed significant parchments. Medieval clergy, military, and nobility loved garnets. Almandite garnets were extremely popular during the Victorian era in “Bohemian” jewelry.
Where Is Garnet Mined?
Garnets come from many places.
Almandite garnets so popular with the Victorians came mostly from the historic mines of Bohemia.
Great 19th century jeweler Carl Fabergé wowed Russian royals with green demantoids from the Urals.
Today, much of the world’s garnet comes from Africa – demantoids from Namibia, bright green tsavorites from Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar, and rich orange-to-yellow spessartines from Namibia and Tanzania.
Other significant producers are Myanmar, Brazil, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.
Different types of garnets range from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, compared to diamonds (10) and rubies (9), so garnet is somewhat more prone to abrasion. This awareness can protect a frequently worn garnet by knowing when not to wear it, specifically when cleaning, gardening or at the beach, anything involving abrasives or harsh chemicals. Garnet (actually all jewelry) should be stored carefully to avoid not only theft, but unnecessary damage and wear from other items. To avoid scratching, don’t let it rub against harder gems or settings.
How To Clean Garnet Jewelry
Most garnets are not treated. Using a soft brush with warm soapy water is always safe for cleaning garnets. Ultrasonic cleaners are usually safe, except for stones that have fractures or have been fracture filled. Steam cleaning is not recommended. If in doubt, just bring to A&L, where our experienced staff will clean and check your jewelry at no cost.
Where To Purchase Garnet Jewelry
Argo & Lehne, has a great selection of garnet jewelry to choose from. Visit us today if you’re in the market for a beautiful garnet ring, bracelet, or pendant. You can also view some of our latest design pieces online here, then contact us here for more information, and to close the deal.