Garnet is the birthstone for January and the gemstone for the second anniversary – signifying eternal friendship and trust. The name “garnet” is derived from the word granatum, meaning “seed”, and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to a pomegranate seed. Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites.
Thousands of years ago, red garnet necklaces adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs, and were entombed with their mummified corpses as prized possessions for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. Signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 AD), red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility. Red garnet’s availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in central Europe around 1500. This source became the nucleus of a regional jewelry industry that reached its peak in the late 1800s. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.
Garnets are a set of closely related minerals that form a group, resulting in gemstones in almost every color. Red garnets have a long history, but modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues. Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems, found in metamorphic rocks (which are rocks altered by heat and pressure) on every continent. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, also occurs in metamorphic rocks, but it’s rarer because it needs unusual rock chemistries and special conditions to form. Demantoid is a rare and famous green garnet, spessartine (also called spessartite) is an orange garnet, and rhodolite is a beautiful purple-red garnet. Garnets can even exhibit the color-change phenomenon similar to the rare gemstone alexandrite.
At The King’s Jewelers, we are proud to have one of the best selections of garnets and colored gemstones in Northern California. I invite you to come in and experience this grand gemstone firsthand.
Sources: Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society