What is Garnet?
Garnet is a variety of crystallized mineral.
The word ‘Garnet’ comes from the Latin word ‘Granum’ meaning grain or pomegranate seeds as it looks similar to those seeds.
It is found predominately in Africa and South East Asia in metamorphic rocks
Garnet varies in colour. The more common ones are:
- Almandine – purple/ red
- Demantoid – yellow/green
- Green grossular - green
- Hessonite – brown/yellow
- Pink grossular – pink/colourless
- Pyrope – red
- Spessartine – orange
- Tsavorite – bright green
- Uvarovite – bright green
Several of the Garnets can be traced back to over 500 years ago – e.g. Pyrope. The Garnet was popular in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and what is now Czechoslovakia.
The Greeks in the middle of the 3rd Century B.C wore huge gold rings with garnets which were so large that they were larger than the finger of the wearer.
Garnets were used in the carved gemstones which were popular during the Roman period.
In the 18th Century Garnets were put on simple hoops and worn as rings and in Victorian times, Garnets were to be found on brooches and bracelets set in filigree.
Demantoid was first discovered in Russia in 1851.
The newest Garnet is Tsavorite which was discovered in the 1970s in Kenya.
There is a legend which states that Noah lit the ark with a Garnet. It was considered to be a symbol of life by the Ancient Egyptians and during the middle ages the Garnet was used as a cure for illness.
The Garnet was thought to have preventative powers by the inhabitants of India and Persia and they also thought that if it was worn as an amulet it would prevent the wearer from being harmed by poison, plague or lightning.
It is said that Garnet aids creativity, enhances passion, stimulates blood flow and enhances love. It is also supposed to protect against evil.
The Garnet is the birthstone for January and is supposed to symbolize faith, eternity and truth. “Let January’s maiden be all Garnet gemmed with constancy” (source unknown)
Garnet should be cleaned using warm, soapy water and a soft brush
Exposure to heat could cause fracturing.
Some garnets such as almandine although dense are brittle and chip easily and so care should be taken.
It can be cleaned ultrasonically but it is not suitable for steam cleaning.
Caring for Garnet (Summary)
• Wash in warm soapy water using a soft brush
• Ultrasonic cleaning can be used
• Do not use steam cleaning
• Handle carefully to prevent chipping.
Garnet is a hard gem – it is rated between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale depending on the type of Garnet.
The specific density of the Garnet also varies according to the type of Garnet, from 4.16 – 3.49.
The crystal structure is cubic.