BIRTHSTONE FOR THE CALENDAR MONTH OF JANUARY
Facts about Garnet
A warm hue of red is the color primarily associated with garnets and few people are aware that the world of garnets is far more colorful. In fact discoveries in Africa, have enhanced the traditional image of the garnet with a surprising number of hues – even if red does continue to be its principal color. The variety of garnets have given new impetus to today’s world of jewelry.
The term ‘garnet’, refers to a group of more than ten different gemstones which have similar chemical composition. This group includes various shades of green, a tender to intense yellow, a fiery orange and some fine earth-colored nuances, with blue being the only color absent. Instead, the world of garnets offers rarities such as star garnets and stones whose color changes depending on whether they are exposed to daylight or artificial light.
The whole group of garnets has a good hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale which ensures its excellent wearing qualities.
The word Garnet derives from the Latin word ‘granum’ meaning ‘grainy’, which makes reference to the typical shape of the crystals, and to the color of the red garnet, which often reminds us of the seeds of a ripe pomegranate. In the Middle Ages, the red garnet was also called the ‘carbuncle stone’. The fantasy names like Arizona ruby, Arizona spinel, Montana ruby or New Mexico ruby continue to be used even today.
Garnet & Mythology…
Garnets have been known to Man for thousands of years. Noah, it is believed, used a garnet lantern to help him steer his ark through the dark night. Garnets are also found in jewelry from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman times. Early explorers and travelers carried a garnet as a talisman and protective stone, We know today that the garnet’s proverbial luminosity is by virtue of its high refractive index.
Various colors of the garnets bear different names such as almandine, andradite, demantoid, grossularite, hessonite, pyrope, rhodolite, and tsavorite and more. Amongst the well known red garnets the fiery red pyrope often with a slight brownish nuance, was the variety greatly in demand in the 18th and 19th centuries and garnets from a mine in the former kingdom of Bohemia were world-famous at that time.