The Jewelry Insider

January 16, 2009

The name garnet most likely was derived from the pomegranate, a fruit whose deep
red-purple color resembles some varieties of garnet. Many ancient pieces of
garnet jewelry are studded with tiny red gems that look like a cluster of
pomegranate seeds.

Garnet is found all over the world, including Africa, Australia, Eastern
Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America and Southeast Asia. There
are garnets that change color in different light, translucent green garnets that
look like jade, and garnets that display a faint four-rayed star. Even though
this exciting gem has been mined for thousands of years, new deposits have been
found in the last decade.

This stone is actually part of a family of gems with mineral and color
differences that include rhodolite, malaya, demantoid, grossular, hessonite,
spessartite, almandine, mandarin, and combinations of these varieties.

Almandine, the most common type, is dark red to brownish red. Pyrope is blood
red. Rhodolite, one of the most popular varieties, ranges from pink to purplish
red and is mined in Africa, India and Sri Lanka. Malaya, a mixed variety found
in Tanzania and Kenya, ranges from orange to gold. Tsavorite is bright yellow
green to grass green and is also mined in Tanzania and Kenya. Demantoid is
primarily found in Russia. Hessonite and spessartite mostly come in golds,
oranges and browns. Mandarin is a bright orange type of spessartite recently
found in Namibia. Grossular is available in pinks, greens and yellows.

As the most common types of garnet, almandine and pyrope are also the most
affordable. But tsavorite and demantoid are quite rare and can cost several
thousand dollars per carat depending on size and quality. Bright colors usually
command higher prices than gems with light or dark hues. The stone also is
available in a variety of sizes, depending on the type of garnet. Larger stones
are available in the more common types and exceedingly scarce in more valuable
tsavorites and demantoids.

Throughout history, garnets have been prized for their rich hues and supposed
mystical properties. The stone was a favorite of ancient Egyptian jewelry
artisans. Demantoid garnet was used lavishly by the Tsars of Russia. Travelers
carried the gem to protect them against accidents. The gem was thought to
protect its wearer from a range of ailments, ward off evil spirits, spark
creativity and dispel anger. The stones are also said to light up the night and
protect their owners from nightmares. Noah used a garnet lantern to navigate the
Ark through 40 days and nights of torrential rain.

Garnet’s various types range from 6-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which
means that the stone is susceptible to nicks and cracks caused by impact.

To clean garnet, use warm soapy water and a soft brush. Ultrasonic cleaning
is safe for most types of garnet except demantoid. Avoid steam cleaning.

Aside from January birthdays, garnet is the recommended gift for couples
celebrating their second wedding anniversary.

Jewelry.com offers a glittering array of
garnet styles.

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