Garnets come in a range of colours, most commonly different shades of red but also oranges, greens, and even some rare blues. Some garnets hold colour-change properties which cause them to present different colours in different light. Within the garnet family there are different types, each with their own unique colour, including the below:
Almandine: a bright red with orange undertones to brown-red.
Demantoid: a rare yellow-green garnet.
Pyrope: a dark, rich red.
Rhodolite: a vibrant purpleish red or pink-red.
Spessartine: orange to brown-red.
Hessonite: warm yellow, orange and brown-red.
Tsavorite: bright green.
Where are they mined?
Garnets are the most commonly mined gemstone in the world and exist on every continent in the world, though not all are of gem quality. Historically, large deposits of red garnet were discovered in Bohemia in Central Europe around the 16th century, and it continues to be mined in the Czech Republic today.
Australia currently produces half the of the worlds garnet supply, with the rest mainly being mined in the United States, India and China.
Brazil, Sri Lanka and many African countries also produce gem-quality garnets.
Qualities to look for
The colour of a garnet has the biggest impact on the price, with rarer colours highly valued over more commonly accessible colours. In regards to clarity, the ideal quality will depend on the type of garnet, for example red garnets are typically eye clean, whereas other types such as orange spessartine and hessonite often have inclusions that are visible to the eye, though this does not drastically effect the value of the stone. Demantoid garnets can display desirable inclusions called horsetails that can actually increase their value. Size can also affect the value of a garnet, such as for demantoid and tsavorite garnets which are usually found only in small sizes. A larger stone of this kind will be dramatically more valuable than garnets that are more commonly found in large sizes, such as almandine garnets.
How to wear
Garnets are durable enough for everyday wear, so are perfect for both casual and bridal jewellery, with a hardness of 6.5-7.5/10.
What makes them special?
Garnet is the January birthstone, and the gemstone for the 2nd wedding anniversary.
In the United States, garnet crystals nearly one meter long have been discovered at the Gore Mountain mine.
The word garnet comes from the Latin ‘granatus’, which derives from the word for grain or seed, and is thought to refer to the red seeds in pomegranate.
Due to it’s hardness and resistance to weathering, garnet is used for many industrial purposes such as in
skid-resistant paint and road aggregate, concrete filler and abrasives.
Garnet is the state stone for New York.
Garnets in history
From 23 -79AD red garnets were among the most widely traded gemstones in the world.
During the Middle Ages red garnet was favoured by clergy and nobility.
Red garnet necklaces were found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, dating back to 3800 BC.
In the late 19th century, the Hunzas of northern Pakistan used garnet bullets as they believed that they would be more effective due to their blood red colour.