The Garnet gemstone is usually given as a gift to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of marriage. It is also the birthstone for january. ‘Garnet’ comes from the Latin word “Garanatus” which has reference to “seedlike”, like the seeds of a pomegranate. The name is very fitting if you visualise the seeds of a pomegranate with their bright red colour. The garnet has made a name for itself throughout history with evidence of a necklace beaded with garnets that was worn by a man back in about 3000B.C. This is a true testament to the garnet’s durability and also beauty. Not all garnets have the same hardness. The hardness varies from 6.5 to a respectable 7.5 on the Mohs scale. The hardness depends on the mineral composition of the garnet. You might also like beryl gemstones.
It is rumoured that the King of Saxony had a garnet of about 465 carats in his possession. Bohemia, now part of Czechoslovakia, used to be a great source of garnets and the art of cutting, polishing and setting these stones was a large part of the jewelers industry of the country. Many churches and castle among other structures, were decorated with garnets and some are still famous for their beautiful interior today. Although the garnet industry is not as large as it once was, garnet jewelry can still be found in the Czech Republic.
The Garnet - A gem of Diversity
Garnet is actually an encapsulating name for the silicate minerals. These minerals are all similar in crystalline structure but all have their minor differences. Garnets are found all across the world in many different countries. Not all garnets are of gem quality but well formed crystals have been coveted for more than 5000 years now.
Today, the Mozambique variety of garnet is quite popular. Originating in the East African nation they are named after, Mozambique garnets are known for their high quality and wonderfully warm, red colours. Mozambique garnet is a mixture of pyrope and almandine garnet, similar in colour to rhodolite garnet, but slightly redder, and darker.
Garnet is best known in a deep red variety but is commonly found in orangy brown and wine red shades. A flawless, clear green garnet or Demantoid, is one of the most beautiful and expensive gems in existence. Demantoids are softer than other types of garnets.
A green garnet of over five carats is rarer than an emerald in the same size. The fire, or sparkle, of such a garnet is even higher than that of a diamond; however the brilliance is masked by the colour, so a white diamond shows more fire to the eye. A large clear garnet is hard to find. The larger gems, as with other gemstones, are usually flawed, cracked or of poor colour.
The other green garnet, known as Tsavorite is quite different. Demantoid is from the andradite family of garnets, tsavorite is a variety of grossular from the ugrandite family of garnets. Demantoid has more dispersion than tsavorite and tends to be more of a grassy/yellow green. Tsavorite can be found in an emerald green colour.
Tsavorite: worth a special mention
A relatively new gemstone in terms of market exposure, but it is one of the oldest forming gemstones in the gem kingdom. Forming 2 billion years ago before the mighty Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain was even formed and before the dinosaurs trekked the earth.
Though Tsavorite is found in both Tanzania and Kenya, the very finest Tsavorite, with the purest green hues is still only found in Tsavo, Kenya. The Kenya-Tanzania border, an area of raw beautiful African wilderness has a history of violent volcanic activity and due to these volatile geological conditions under which it forms, Tsavorite is only found in relatively small sizes. Stones over 2.5 carats are considered very rare and valuable.
Tsavorite has earned its place as one of the world’s finest coloured gemstones. Its high refractive index and dispersion levels translate into wonderful brilliance and it is far less included than its cousin, Emerald. Its stunning, pure green hues, durability, purity and rareness have attracted gem collectors and jewellery lovers alike.
Tsavorite has a rating of 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs scale of gem hardness and is therefore very durable and suitable for all forms of jewellery. Due to its high refractive index and high dispersion levels, makes this stunning green gemstone incredibly sparkly and eye-catching, they really ‘pop’ when set with Diamonds, as they too have a high refractive index and really complement each other.
Tsavorite looks stunning in platinum and both white or yellow gold to create some gorgeous Tsavorite jewellery pieces.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most popular of the garnet is the red colour variety. Garnets are silicate minerals.
The word Garnet literally means “dark red” in Old English. Garnets, however, come in a variety of colours; pink, orange, yellow, blue, green, brown, black or colourless. So you are spoilt for choice when it comes to your birthstone colour.
Garnets are found all over the globe, from South Africa to China to Sri Lanka, Madagascar, the USA and Brazil. Additional species include Spessartite from Kenya and Tanzania. Then there is Uvarovite from Russia, Poland, and Finland.
Just like any other gemstone a garnets value is determined by its colour intensity, purity and size. They are abundantly available, however, so they are not as valuable as sapphires, emeralds and rubies. The one species, colour changing Garnet, are more expensive.
Rubies are considered one of the four main precious gemstones, which make it more expensive than a garnet. The two stones do look similar, but if you have a tight budget, go for a garnet.