Garnet

Garnet

January’s birthstone

Colours Various
Family

Garnet

Hardness

6.5 - 7.5

Refractive Index

1.52 - 1.94

Specific Gravity

3.62 - 4.30

Crystal System

Cubic

Enhancements Not known to be enhanced
Major Sources

Namibia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Mali, India Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Russia, Madagascar

Warnings for Care Fracturing may occur with high - intense heat

Garnet Facts

Some confusions reigns over the origin of the word Garnet. The most commonly held view is that Garnet is derived from the Latin word "granatus" meaning "grain", this from its typically rounded seed shaped crystals that resemble those of a  pomegranate "Punica Granatum". It may however come from the middle English word  "gernet" meaning deep red. Regardless Garnets have been widely known for thousands of years, as both a valued jewellery item and an abrasive. There are six common species of Garnet exhibiting a range of colours including red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, black, pink and colorless. For many years it was believed that Garnet did not occur in any form of the colour blue, however  following a discovery in the late 1990s in Bekily, Madagascar, the rarest of Garnets now shares its place among its peers. In some instance a single stone can exhibit more than one colour depending on the ambient light source (colour change Garnets). The most common colour through, and almost now by definition, is red

Garnets are hard (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs' scale), practical, everyday gemstones, being durable and resistant to  wear and tear, and relatively easy  to work with in jewellery manufacturing.  The latter  owing to their resistance to heat. Garnet is the birthstone for month of January, and those born under the star signs of Capricorn and Aquarius

Topics Of Interest:
Garnet - What Causes the Colour
Purchasing Garnet
Mineable Deposits
Garnet - Common Treatments
Important & Famous Garnet
Garnet - The Legend

Garnet - What Causes the Colour

The colour of Garnets is as much a function of their specific chemical composition as it is the addition of trace elements within their crystal lattice. Garnets are a large family  of gemstones, with six distinct members or species, their chemical composition ranges from Magnesium Aluminium Silicates, through Iron Aluminium Silicates to Manganese Aluminium Silicates. Calcium Aluminium silicates, Calcium Iron Silicates and Calcium Chrome Silicates make up the other three species, all contributing to the wide range of colour found within the family as a whole

The Major Varieties:
Pyrope, red garnet, frequently with brown tint
Almandine, red garnet with violet tint
Spessartite, orange to red-brown garnet. The best specimen comes from Namibia and is called "Mandarin or Holandine Garnet"
Grossular, colorless, green, yellow, brown garnet
Andradite, black, brown, yellow-brown garnet
Uvarovite, emerald green garnet that rarely occurs in gemstone quality.

 

Some less common Species:
Hydrogrossular, dense, opaque greenish variety of grossularite
Rhodolite, purplish red or rose-color garnet.
Hessonite, brown-red variety of garnet
Leuco garnet, colorless variety of grossularite
Tsavorite, green to emerald green garnet
Demantoid, oneof  the most valuable garnet, green to emerald green
Melanite, opaque black variety of andradite
Tapazolite, yellow to lemon yellow, topaz-like variety of andradite

 

Purchasing Garnet

Color
As with any stone personal preference as much as fashion dictate which colour will be popular from time to time. Traditionally an intensely saturated deep red was the most common colour  and fine examples of this come from Mozambique. In larger sizes this deep red can become a little to overpowering and the stones appear somewhat dull as light struggles to be transmitted. As the public awareness for Garnets varieties develops so the demand for different colours has increased and subsequently their prices. Of late Demantoid with its rich emerald green color has become one of  today's most valuable garnets, possible only second to the rare blue Garnet from Madagascar. Since the late 1960's Tsavorite, with it beautiful emerald green colour has been attracting attention and large examples now fetch a premium on world markets.

Lighting
Garnet is a stone that looks as good under natural light as it does under artificial light. The exceptions are the colour change Garnets. Several  varieties of color change garnets exist, and in natural light, their color ranges from shades of green, beige, brown, gray, and blue, but in artificial light, they appear a reddish or purplish/pink color.

Clarity
As a family Garnets are in general very clean gems, certainly in smaller sizes. Larger examples of Pyrope can have small inclusions visible to the naked eye, however these rarely detract from the overall appearance of the stone due to their intense colour, and should not be seen as a hurdle in the purchase thereof.  Andradites as a family can contain a distinctive horsetail type of inclusion, and Almandines are know is some rare example to exhibit Asterism. The presence of asbestos and asbestos type fibres result in 4 and occasionally 6 rayed stars being visible in cabochon cut stones. Inclusions while usually a detractor from  the value of a stone, when rare as in the case of Garnet astertism,  can considerably enhance the open market price.

Cut
Garnets lend themselves to all type of cutting, and no modern or historical cut really takes preference as being better to bring out the stones full potential. Suffice to say that as with all gemstones rounds are the most common followed by ovals, squares, octagons and pears.

Mineable Deposits

Deposits -  The Major Varieties:
Pyrope: China, Madagascar, Myanmar, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA
Almandite: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and the United States. Smaller deposits exist in Austria and the Czech Republic. Almandine garnet star-stones are found in India and the United States (Idaho).
Spessartite: Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Myanmar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA. The best specimens come from Namibia and are called "Mandarin Spessartine (Spessartite) "
Grossularite: Canada, Kenya, Mali, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA
Andradite: Russia
Uvarovite: Canada, Finland, India, Poland, Russia, USA

Deposits -  - Some less common Species:
Rhodolite: Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, USA
Hydrogrossular: Myanmar, South Africa, Zambia
Hessonite: Brazil, Canada, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA
Leuco garnet: Canada, Mexico, Tanzania
Tsavorite: Kenya, Tanzania
Demantoid: China, Korea, Russia, USA, Zaire
Melanite: France, Germany, Italy, USA
Tapazolite: Italy, Switzerland, USA

 

Garnet - Common Treatments

Garnet is not known to be artificially enhanced in any way. Synthetic garnet in the form of YAG (Yttrium Aluminium Garnet) was a popular diamond simulant in the 1970's, before it was eclipsed by Cubic Zirconia. However this clear variety of synthetic garnet is unlikely to be confused with the natural stone.

Important & Famous Garnet

Garnet has been a popular gemstone for jewellery for thousands of years. In recent times at the auction of the Estate of the late Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis at Sotheby's on April 24, 1996, a Garnet cabochon flower brooch was sold for $145,000. In the same year a university student in Australia discovered what is believed to be the largest single garnet find ever. This giant rough is thought to weight thousands of tons and measures nearly a hundred feet across.

Garnet - The Legend

Garnets have been widely known for more than 3000 years,  from Egyptian, through Greek and Roman times, travelers wore Garnets for protection, as they were considered a popular talismans and protective stones, against evil.

Garnet is the birthstone for whose birthday falls in January, and for those born under he star signs of Capricorn and Aquarius.

Precious Semi-Precious Gemstones

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