Garnets are semi-precious gemstones that are found in several colors including red, pink, yellow, blue, black, purple, colorless, orange, and brown. Of these, blue garnet is the rarest. It was discovered much more recently compared to other colors – in Bekily, Madagascar in the late 1990s. It was successively discovered in the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Tanzania, and Kenya.
The blue garnet has a special property. The blue-green color changes to purple as it is taken from daylight to incandescent light. This color changing property is also found in garnets of other colors. What are green, brown, beige, blue, and gray in the daylight turn to a shade of red, pink, or purple. This phenomenon often leads people to mistake garnet for Alexandrite, a rare gem.
Garnets are a group of silicate minerals that include a range of impurities, which result in a whole umbrella of shapes, sizes, and colors. Although all garnets have the same crystal forms and physical properties, they have different chemical formulas depending on the trace elements or other rocks they have.
There are so many varieties that the sheer number can be bewildering. It helps to sort them out on the basis of color. Let’s take a look at the different colors of garnet and their value.
Pyrope and Almandine: They are found in colors ranging from purple to orangy red. Almandine is an exceptionally hard variety of garnet which is used in making abrasives.
Spessartine: They are found in myriad shades of orange.
Andradite: They are found in shades of yellow and yellowish green.
Grossular: The largest varieties of colors are found in grossular species – from colorless to yellowish and reddish orange, from orangy red to a brilliant green. Grossular has two varieties – greenish tsavorite and reddish hessonite.
Demantoid: It is a vibrant green garnet that is highly prized for its rarity.
Rhodolite: It is a purplish-red variety of garnet.
Clarity, Cut, and Carat
Typically, clarity of garnets depends on their color. For example, red garnets like almandine and pyrope do not have inclusions visible to the eye. On the other hand, orange garnets such as spessartine have visible inclusions. The grossular variety is generally translucent.
Expensive garnets are cut into shapes suitable for jewelry making such that minimum wastage takes place. Red garnets are usually cut into beads and cabochons of high clarity and transparency. Demantoid is cut in a way that maximizes the display of its “fire” or its signature internal turbulent design.
Garnets are available in a wide variety of sizes and weights. Demantoid and tsavorite are usually found in small sizes, so large-sized ones are considerably expensive. However, others such as almandine are commonly found in large sizes and therefore, there is no special value for large stones.
History and Folklore
From the excavations at Egyptian tombs and pyramids, it has been found that ancient Egyptian pharaohs were fond of garnets. Red ones adorned their necks as they were mummified for their afterlife.
Ancient Romans used to stamp important documents with signet rings with carved garnets. The Roman scholar, Pliny, wrote in his book “Natural History” that red garnets were among the most traded gems. In the Middle Ages, garnets were favored by the clergy and nobility.
Around the 1500s, there was a discovery of huge deposits of garnets in the Bohemian kingdom in Central Europe. It led to the establishment of a regional jewelry industry that reached its zenith in the late 19th century.
Role in Astrology
Garnets are associated with bringing balance in life and eliminating the impact of negative energies. It is said to improve confidence, strength, contemplation, composure, and generosity in the wearer. It is especially helpful in fostering strong friendships. It is recommended for frequent travelers for keeping them away from accidents.
Businessmen are recommended to keep a few loose garnets in their cash box to boost their income. It is also useful in attracting good deals.
The stone is also considered to have healing properties. For example, it soothes a troubled mind, bringing calm to a person suffering from depression and mental stress. It is helpful in improving the blood circulation and levels of hemoglobin.
Garnets are special stones that add a special beauty to any jewelry. Their deep red color is especially beautiful when used in wedding jewelry such as engagement rings. To really experience the attractive charm of a garnet, you need to see one for yourself.