The Pomegranate Guide to Garnet, Birthstone for January
Garnet is one of those gemstones that we automatically associate with a certain colour, but like so many other gemstones it can be naturally found in a dazzling array of colours - not just the deep red hue we might instantly think of. Read on for some fun facts about garnet along with some of our top picks of garnet jewellery.
Garnets are usually perceived as being dark red in colour but they are actually available in a rich palette of colours: greens, oranges, purplish reds and even some blues. Most of these colourful garnets come from Africa. Pyrope garnets can rival pinkish red rubies and tsavorite garnets, emeralds.
Importantly, garnets are rarely treated - unlike most coloured gemstones on the market. They are also often transparent, vibrantly coloured and free of inclusions and so perfect to yield beautiful gems.
Despite red garnet being one of the most common and widespread of gems, found on every continent, not all garnets are quite as abundant as the red ones.
For example, green garnet known as tsavorite & orange garnets known as spessartite require unusual rock chemistries and conditions to form and are rare - this impacts their price with good examples rivalling prices of other sought after gemstones.
There are more than 20 garnet species but only 5 of them are used commercially as gemstones:
- Pyrope garnets - purple to orangey red
- Almandite garnets - purple to organgey red
- Spessartite - orange and yellow - sometimes known as 'mandarin garnets'
- Andradite garnets - yellow to yellowish green
- Grossularite - the widest colour range of any garnet species - from colourless to red to strong vibrant green
These species are further divided for prized varities. For example bright green green grossularite garnets are called tsavorites. Suffice to say, the sheer number of garnet species and varieties is pretty bewildering!
Interesting Facts About Garnets
- The name garnet is believed to have originated from the Latin word "granatum," meaning pomegranate. The deep red color of some garnets resembles the juicy seeds of this fruit.
- Garnet availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in central Europe around 1500.
- There are over 20 garnet categories, known as species, but only 5 are commercially important as gems
- Orange garnets are known as Spessartite, whilst green garnets are Tsavorite
- Rare garnet colours include peach, colorless and blue
- Pyrope, a deep red garnet can sometimes be mistaken for a rubies
- Garnet hardness ranges from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale compared to rubies which are 9
- In medieval times, garnet was believed to have protective properties against poison and nightmares. It was also thought to bring good fortune to its wearer during their travels
- Garnet is often considered a symbol of friendship and trust. It's said to inspire loyalty and mutual understanding among friends, making it a perfect gift for your closest companions