Garnet Birthstone - Meaning and History
Garnet is the birthstone for January and the stone to celebrate the 2nd wedding anniversary. The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word “Garanatus,” meaning “seedlike” in reference to a pomegranate. The garnet has been a popular gem since Bronze Age. Garnets bead necklace have been found in an Egyptian tomb that dates to 3000 BCE – a proof of the it’s hardness and durability.
Garnet’s Composition, Varieties and Mines
The mineral garnet is commonly found in metamorphic rocks. All species of garnets possess similar physical properties and crystal forms but differ in chemical composition. Garnet is a group of several minerals. Five of these – pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular and andradite – are important as gems. Pyrope and almandine range from purple to red. Spessartine comes in exciting oranges and yellows, while andradite is mostly yellow to green. The green gem variety is demantoid. The widest range of colors – from colorless through yellow to reddish orange and orangy red, as well as a strong vibrant green called tsavorite are found in grossular.
Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) was the primary source of the red pyrope garnets. Today, the African continent supplies much of the world’s garnet. Namibia is now producing demantoids. (The Poldnevaya mine is one of two active demantoid garnet mines in the Ural Mountains of Russia). Namibia and Tanzania are also key sources of the rich orange-to-yellow spessartine garnets. Most of the bright green tsavorites in the market come from Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar. Garnet is also found in Myanmar, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Brazil, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, among other countries.
Things to consider while buying
Garnet is one of the few untreated gems. Today, the Mozambique variety of garnet is quite popular. Mozambique garnets are known for their high quality and wonderfully warm, red colors. It is a mixture of pyrope and almandine garnet. Mozambique garnet has the warm “blood red” shade that most people associate with garnet, while Rhodolite has a luxurious raspberry hue.
Depending on the variety, quality and size of a garnet, one can pay anywhere from $40 to $5000 per carat.
- Color – Color Is the most important quality factor for garnet. Garnet species are found in every color, with reddish shades most common. Blue garnets are the rarest.
- Clarity - Most natural garnets contain inclusions. The red garnets almandine, rhodolite and pyrope usually are eye clean. Whereas, the orange garnets, like spessartine and hessonite, often have eye-visible inclusions.
Caring for Garnet Gemstones
Clean Garnet using warm, soapy water and a soft brush. You can clean most (except demantoid) garnets in an ultrasonic. Do not steam clean your garnet. It is a hard stone ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. But if you let it rub against harder stones such as rubies, sapphires and diamonds then it can be scratched. Similarly, it can scratch softer gems, such as opals or pearls. Garnet is ideal for earrings, brooches and pendants.
Perhaps the strongest virtue of the garnet, is its ability to help one overcome depression. Because it's such an energizing stone, garnet is often used for manifestation purposes and worn as a talisman for good luck. In addition to bringing vitality, high energy, and protection, garnet also helps build self-confidence and clarify one's life purpose.