Garnet is the name given to a group of minerals that occur in wide variety of colors, although the best known is the deep red from which the stone derives its name: “gernet” is a word from Middle English and means “dark red. “Gernet" itself is derived from the Latin “granatum”, as in pomegranate, meaning “seed”.
Garnets are chemically classifies as silicate minerals, making them hard, abrasion resistant, and chemical resistant. While they are often thought of as a deep red stone, they can also be found in shades of green, orange, black, brown, purple, and yellow, as well as the best-known deep red. Blue garnets do occur, but are extremely rare.
The most common minerals in the Garnet group are: uvarovite, almandine, grossularite, spessartine, pyrope, and andradite. They all have a glassy, or vitreous luster and are translucent to transparent in diaphaneity. In this article, we’ll look various forms of garnet used in handmade jewelry.
Almandine / Mozambique Garnets
When you think of garnets, Almandine are usually the ones that come to mind. Almondine tend toward the dark blood red with slight brown tones, these garnets which were first found in the South African Country of Mozambique, can look like bright red rubies. You can find Almondine in both bead, cabochon, and cut stone, as well as in cut gems due to its superb clarity.
Rhodolite Garnets fall between the Almandine and Pyrope families. They vary from a deep wine-colored claret with purple undertones to a bright clear rose-pink, very similar to pink tourmaline. The more rosy the stone is, the more likely it is to be used as a cut gem. Pyropes are noted for their clarity in comparison to others in the garnet family.
Spessartite Garnet (sometimes called Spessartine Garnet) is a fiery explosion of red-orange that, in the best specimens, looks like it is holding fire inside. It varies from a dark orange-red to a light orange-yellow.
Mandarin Garnet is a specific variation of Spessartite garnet, generally found in Namibia, and it is a much brighter orange than regular spessartite, more in line with Tanzanian orange sapphire.
Grossularite Garnets are defined by their chemical makeup of calcium aluminum silicate and include Tsavorite, Uvarovite, and Hessonite.
Tsavorite Garnet is a specific variety of Grossularite Garnet but tends to have higher transparency and clarity than regular Grossularite Garnet. To untrained eyes, a cut stone can look quite like an emerald.
Uvarovite is another grossularite Garnet that is darker green than Tsavorite and almost always forms as a druzy on matrix. Given how it crystallizes, it is almost never found in bead form.
Hessonite Garnet is another type of Grossularite Garnet that differs from displays of browns to golds—similar in color to ambers, which are becoming increasingly expensive. It is sometimes called cinnamon stone due to the richness of the brown color.
Other Grossularite Garnets
Grossularite garnets that do not fall into one of the named varietals are generally an olivine green, lacking transparency and clarity but still carrying the garnet luster while not being completely opaque.
Black Melanite/Black Titanium Garnet falls into the Andradite classification of garnet and is generally less expensive than black spinel or sapphire. It is one of the rarest garnets used in jewelry, but is rarely found in bead form and usually only in cut gem form.
Another rare garnet variety in this classification is Topazolite, which, as its name suggests, is generally bright yellow, mimicking Topaz.
Origin and Provenance
Garnet can be found all over the globe and the rarest form, Mandarin Garnet, are the most highly prized of all the Garnet varieties. The minerals can be found in Sri Lanka and India, Tanzania, Madagascar, Czech Republic, Greece, Russia and parts of the USA.
Industrial and Other Uses
Pyrope garnets are used in industrial applications of waterjet cutting, abrasive blasting and cleaning, fine sandpaper, water filtration as granules and abrasive powders used in a variety of industrial processes.
History and Mythological Significance
Garnet has a rich and fascinating body of folklore associated with it. Its connection to the seeds of the pomegranate has clearly been influential in the widely held belief that this stone can bring lovers together speedily after a time of separation. According to Greek mythology, Hades gave the gift of a pomegranate to Persephone to ensure her speedy return to him in the underworld. Garnet has retained this significance as a symbol of love and is traditionally given as a gift on the 19th anniversary of a marriage.
During mediaeval times, Garnets were credited with the ability to guard against nightmares, cure depression and relive disorders of the liver. In the Old testament Noah used a garnet to bring light and illumination to the Ark during the time of the flood. In Christian traditions, the red hue of many Garnets is held to represent the sanctity of Christ’s blood. The Koran refers to the power of Garnet to illuminate the Fourth Heaven of Islam.
In Ancient Greece Garnet was believed to guard against poison and to protect children from drowning.
It seems that Garnet has been used as a protective talisman by the people of many different cultures and civilizations throughout human history. References to the power of Garnet to ward off danger, promote good health and keep travelers safe have been found in many ancient texts.
Metaphysical and Healing Properties
In terms of metaphysical applications and properties, Garnet is said to be a powerful healer, able to regenerate the cells of the body, purify the blood and assist in the assimilation of minerals and vitamins.
Its psychological applications include sharpening one’s perception of self and other people, dissolving unwanted behavior patterns that no longer serve you and addressing self-sabotaging habits. Emotionally, Garnet is said to remove inhibitions and taboos and promote self-confidence.
With so many varieties and colors of garnet, the possibilities are endless. Visit our shop to view our current garnet beads collection and offerings.