Learn about Garnet Gemstones
Garnet Gemstone Properties
Loose natural garnet gemstones, the birthstone for January are one of nature’s most amazing creations. When asked what color is garnet, most people would say red. This is very far from reality. One nature’s miracles are the incredible vast array of colors that garnets can posses, which is unparalleled in any gemstone species accept tourmaline. The only color garnet has not been found in is the color blue. In the past 40 years spectacular garnet discoveries have been made of new fabulous colors, mainly in Africa. Garnets can occur in all colors except for blue. The supply of these new garnet gemstones is ample and ever expanding. Garnets have become a mainstay and favorite of high end jewelry designers. Garnets are also one of the most interesting and complex gem species in nature, consisting of more than ten different gemstones of very similar chemical makeups. All of the different garnet gemstones offer excellent hardness, 7.5 on the Mohs scale, posses no cleavage but what is most wonderful about them is their high refractive index. This is the reason that the fine Tsavorite can rival the finest emeralds and the fiery brilliance of a spessartite garnet is as mesmerizing as the best sunsets. Our selection of garnets includes the following; Tsavorite, Rhodolite, Spessartite, Grossular, Malaia, - and our newest Tangerine.
Garnet Gemstone History and Lore
Garnet gemstones have been used in jewelry and other ways for many thousands of years. According to the ancient Jewish text the Talmud, a garnet provided the only source of light on Noah's Ark. Garnet jewelry has been found in Egyptian, Greek and Roman ruins. Garnet was also a symbol of one of the original 12 tribes of Israel and a birthstone. Some Asiatic tribes fashioned garnets into bullets believing that they would be more lethal than lead bullets. Garnet is also believed to protect its wearer from evil and disaster. The word garnet comes from a Latin word meaning pomegranate. A thriving garnet jewelry and cutting industry based on the very popular red pyrope garnets was started in Czechoslovakia in 1500. Until the nineteenth century it was the world’s largest source of gem garnets. These fiery red pyrope garnets were very popular in Victorian jewelry. The discovery of a bright green Grossular garnet in East Africa in the late 1960’s that was named “Tsavorite” by the Tiffany’s jewelry firm that also named and popularized the blue lavender zoisite gemstone as Tanzanite. This very exciting discovery brought the gemstone and jewelry industries a new color of garnet that can rival emerald in its luminescent green color. The discovery of a fiery orange variety of spessartite garnet on the Angola-Namibian border in the 1980’s also rocked the gemstone and jewelry world. The incredible radiant orange garnet, the likes of which had never been seen before was a major development in bringing garnet to the forefront of exciting gemstones.
Garnet Gemstone Sources and Occurrences
Garnet is formed in a variety of metamorphic and igneous rock formations. The best quality gems usually are found in alluvial deposits. The major sources of almandite are Mozambique, India and Brazil. Rhodolite was originally discovered in North Carolina but the major source for fine gems is Tanzania and also Sri Lanka. Spessartite occurs in Zambia (most recent), Namibia, Nigeria, Madagascar and California. Grossular, color change, Tsavorite and Malaia are all found in east Africa. Demantoid garnet, whose brilliance is greater than that of diamond, was originally discovered in Russia but was recently discovered in Namibia but the Namibian garnets lack the distinctive “horsetail” inclusion that the Russian gems are characterized by.
Garnet Gemstone Evaluation and Valuation
The purity of color, clarity and size are the most important evaluation factors in loose garnet gemstones. Demantoid is one of the most valuable of all gemstones and large gems of exceptional quality are exceedingly rare. Tsavorite is very rare in fine color, clarity and size. The price for fine gem garnets increases with size as large inclusion free crystals are rare. Unusual colored garnets can be quite valuable in larger sizes as they usually fall into a “no mans land” of garnet chemical makeup.