What Is Garnet? | Bixler’s Birthstone Guide
Garnet is an ancient Middle English word sometimes referred to as garnet to mean dark red. It gets its name from the Latin word, granatus, which would be used to refer to pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate is a type of fruit that has deep red seeds that resemble the garnet crystals. The garnet is a gemstone and an abrasive mineral that contains a group of silicate minerals sharing crystal structures. The formation of the crystal is identical all through but vary in element composition. That is why the garnet is classified into two categories. These include garnets containing the second element of aluminum (Almandine, Pyrope, and Spessartine), and those with calcium as their first element (Grossular, Uvarovite, and Andradite).
January being Garnet’s birthstone, the gemstone provides a long history. It was first discovered on a body of a young man in a grave back in the 3000 B.C. This proves that it is quite a hard and durable stone with a Mohs of 7.5 on the scale of hardness.
What Does This Gemstone Look Like?
As mentioned above, garnet doesn’t come as a single mineral. It is a mixture of minerals and includes the almandine, spessartine, pyrope, Grossular, andradite, and uvarovite. These minerals feature a vitrified luster with a subtle transparent to translucent appearance. A garnet features a delicate tenacity and lacks cleavage. You can find them as crystals, pebbles (stream-worn), and in granular aggregates. Mostly, this crystal features a dodecahedral habit and even a Trapezohedral habit.
Dodecahedral is a geometric polyhedron design of a crystal that features twelve uniform trilateral faces. Trapezohedral is one that resembles a honeycomb or kite. This is because they take the form of a cubic system with three axes of the same length and are all vertical. Garnets will break under too much pressure and form asymmetrical sharp pieces. The chemical composition of the garnets varies making it display different strengths on the Mohs scale of hardness; ranging from 6.5 to 7.5.
What Color Is a Garnet?
Garnets were once known to be red-colored gemstones that were earlier used in the Bronze Age. The darker red garnet is mainly associated with the first garnets that were seen in the past. Garnets from pyropes and almandines from Europe feature a deep red color. However, garnets come in various colors besides red depending on the region they are mined from. Rhodolites produce garnets that come in a mixture of colors including violet and orange. Spessartite garnets from Tanzania and Madagascar feature a deep orange as well as red. Yellow garnets are less popular and are mostly generated from Grossular.
Kenya and Tanzania produce green tsavorite garnets whereas the beautiful demantoid (lustrous green) type originates from Russia and in some parts of Madagascar. The latest Merelani Mint garnets from tanzanite are gaining popularity fast because of its unique and calm appearance. Violets from Mozambique feature a beautiful and unique color as the pyrope and almandine combine to form the rhodolite garnet. Today, garnets are also found in intermediary colors such as peach and different hues of pinks. Color-change garnet is a combination of pyrope and spessartine and shows a variety of colors under natural or incandescent light. Garnets come in almost all colors but blue.
How Much Is It Worth?
The worth of garnets, like every other gemstone, depends on their color, availability, cut, clarity and weight. Almandine and pyrope garnets are the vastly popular varieties that are less expensive compared to other types of gemstones. The brownish tone they exhibit minimizes their beauty and hence making them less attractive for buyers. However, some garnets are more valuable and unique, making them a lot of pricier. These include the likes of Mandarin orange from spessartine, the green tsavorite, demantoid, purple-red garnet, vivid purple and one that changes its color. Another extremely rare garnet called the colorless leuco is also expensive.
What Does a Garnet Symbolize?
Garnet, being a January birthstone has plenty of symbolism and power. It is a gemstone that is associated with the celebration of the second marriage anniversary. The gem is known all around the world for its beautiful colors and excellent durability. It was traditionally associated with friendship, love, fidelity, success, light, loyalty, faith, devotion, truth, consistency, and vivacity. During the Victorian times in ancient Europe, garnets were popularly used as decorative jewelry. The ancient Spain astrology believed that the garnet represented the sun. The Greeks, as well as the Romans, valued this gem as they used signet rings to make and seal important documents.
In medieval times, the garnets were purported to cure conditions like depression and provide protection against bad and evil dreams. They were also used to relieve liver diseases and hemorrhages. Some cultures went ahead to engrave a lion figure into a garnet. This was to act as an effective talisman for curing all the diseases, protect them from all evil and restore and maintain honor and respect for the wearer.
It was also purported to alert the wearer of the impending danger and help protect the person wearing it. Healing gemstones were usually the almandine and pyrope type that was thought to act as a stimulant for the heart. The gemstone was also believed to bring extreme benefits in businesses since it would cause people to get attracted to the wearer.
Is a Garnet a Precious Gemstone?
Garnets are formed from igneous and metamorphic rocks but are a mixture of different minerals. These attributes make the garnet a gemstone but not precious. A precious gemstone is one that is extremely unique and rare like the diamond, ruby, emerald, and sapphire. The gemstone falls in the semi-precious category of gemstones because it is largely available and less valuable compared to the precious stones. The color, cut, availability and quality of garnet will determine the value of the semi-precious gemstone. Garnets have plenty of sources and almost all the sources produce different types of gemstone. Being a semi-precious gemstone, the garnet is used to complement the precious gemstones like diamonds, rubies, and emerald.