This week we bring you one of the staple gemstones of any gemstone collector or jewellery-maker – gorgeous Garnet! Did you know that Garnet is not a single gemstone but describes a group of closely related gemstones that come in a variety of colours and have many different varieties? Read on to learn more about this amazing gemstone family!
The iconic and well-renowned colour of Garnet is dark red and tends to be simply called “Garnet” whereas other coloured Garnets are usually given more descriptive gemstone names such as Hessonite Garnet, which is an orangey-brown colour. The dark-red variety is usually either Almandine (a dark red opaquer Garnet) or Rhodolite (a gem-quality translucent purply red Garnet). The most popular varieties of garnets are:
Almandine: The most common Garnet in its iconic dark red colour.
Andradite: The most lustrous Garnet which has various varieties itself.
Colour-Change Garnet: A mix of Pyrope and Spessartite that presents a colour change from brownish green to pinkish purple.
Demantoid: An olive/emerald-green variety of Andradite Garnet.
Grossular: The most varicoloured form of Garnet with various varieties.
Hessonite: An orange-brown, transparent variety of Grossular Garnet.
Imperial Garnet: A light pink, transparent gem variety of Grossular Garnet.
Leuco Garnet: A colourless, transparent variety of Grossular Garnet.
Melanite: A lustrous, opaque black variety of Andradite Garnet.
Pyrope: A red transparent gem-quality Garnet devoid of flaws or inclusions.
Rhodolite: A rose-red gem-quality translucent form of Garnet.
Spessartite: An orange to orange-red form of Garnet.
Star Garnet: A form of Almandine Garnet that exhibits asterism.
Topazolite: A brownish-yellow variety of Andradite Garnet.
Tsavorite: An emerald-green transparent variety of Grossular Garnet.
Almost 90% of the world's Garnet supply is produced by the largest Garnet mine in the world located at North Creek, New York. It’s also the world’s oldest Garnet mine, opened by H. H. Barton Snr in 1878. Most of this Garnet is mined primarily for industrial usage. Garnet used for gemstone jewellery is found all over the world, with many important mines in Africa.
Garnet's etymology comes from the Latin word “granatus”, which means grain. Remnants of Garnet jewellery have been dated as far back as the Bronze Age. Egyptians used Garnet as inlays in jewellery and carvings and referred to it as the symbol of life. It was very popular in ancient Rome and was often used as signet rings or as a talisman for protection both by warriors going into battle and those who wanted to ward off pestilence and plague. Some ancient healers and wise men placed Garnet in wounds due to its perceived healing powers. The Victorians made Garnet very popular with clusters of tiny red gems forming larger statement pieces.
The most well-known and popular dark red varieties Almandine and Rhodolite are very affordable and made into all types of jewellery such as necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings. Round cabochons of red Garnet are also popular and used in rings and bracelets. The rarer green Tsavorite and Demantoid Garnets are often used to make fine jewellery. Colour-changing Garnet has sparked recent interest and is typically used in rings. Other forms of Garnets such as Spessartite, Grossular and Hessonite are widely available as beads alongside their dark red counterparts. Garnet is also used in many industrial applications as Garnet sand is an amazing abrasive. Garnet sandpaper is popularly used by cabinet makers for finishing purposes whilst Garnet sand mixed with very high-pressure water jets is used to cut steel and other materials!
Garnet is a Silicate that often occurs as an accessory mineral in igneous rocks such as granite. Each different variety has its own unique chemical composition and hardness; however, most Garnets are typically between 6.5 and 7.5 on the MOHs hardness scale.
Garnet is considered a powerful energising and regenerating stone. It is said to cleanse and energise all the chakras, whilst revitalising, purifying, and balancing energy thus bringing serenity. It is thought to inspire love and devotion whilst balancing one’s sex drive and emotional disharmony. Garnet is thought of as a stone of commitment to a person or idea.