Let’s learn a bit more about this well-known semi-precious stone. Garnet is the birthstone for January and is more widely known for its deep red hue. Interestingly, the Garnet gemstone exists in a rainbow of colours such as yellow, green and orange. They are also found in shades of black or even colourless. While the available variety is large, most people still associate January’s birthstone with its deep red shade. For this reason, most Garnet gifts designed for those with a January birthday use this colour.
This beautiful stone is also considered by some to be an alternative second wedding anniversary gift, while the most traditional gifts are considered to be cotton or china.
The word ‘Garnet’ comes from the Latin word ‘Granatus’ meaning ‘seeds’. This is possibly a reference to ‘Pomum grabatun’, the pomegranate fruit, which is similar in shape and colour to many Garnet crystals. From that, the word ‘gernet’ was originated in the 14th‑century Middle English, which then meant 'dark red'.
This stone was discovered and used as a gemstone in Roman times, as well as in Ancient Egyptian graves, dating back some 5000 years.
Garnets are composed of a group of silicate minerals, rather than just one. There are actually more than twenty categories of this semi-precious stone. All of them possess similar properties and crystal forms, but they differ in chemical composition. The most common deep red coloured Garnets are called ‘Almandine Garnet’, which is a silicate of iron and aluminium - the iron being responsible for the famous red colouring. Another common species of this semi-precious gemstone is the Anthill Garnet (also known as Pyrope). This particular stone is called “ant hill” because they are often found near the nests of ants. Interestingly, these tiny “miners” come across little of these stones and discard them while excavating their underground passages.
Africa is the major source for most Garnets, however India, Brazil and the USA, have also produced the gem.
Some of the different kinds of Garnets. Photo by: Ville Koistinen
Nowadays, Tsavorite holds the highest Garnet gemstone value, and they are found as a rare green gemstone. It was first found near the border between Kenya and Tanzania. Its deep green colour resembles that of an emerald, but with a higher refractive index than its more famous cousin, it has a tremendous sparkle and good specimens can fetch some eye watering prices.
In modern times all varieties of Garnet are not only considered birthstones for January, but also birthstone for those born under the star sign Aquarius. Interestingly, this stone is also considered the state gemstone for New York.
The world’s largest Garnet was discovered in New York city, during the excavation of a sewer in 1885. It is called the ‘Kunz Garnet’ and is the size of a bowling ball, weighing over 4kg. It is currently stored in the American Museum of Natural History and is estimated to be 430 million years old.
When buying Garnet jewellery, no particular or special jewellery care advice is needed. It is a relatively hard stone and in fact, over the last 150 years, has been used for industrial purposes! Garnet sand is a good abrasive and can be used in sandpaper or for cutting steel with high powered water jets. The largest source of abrasive Garnet stone requires no grinding, as it is found in rich beach sand on the Indian and Australian coasts.
Now that you know more about this gorgeous gemstone, check out our bohemian Garnet jewellery styles and find the perfect treat for yourself or that special January birthstone gift for your loved one.
Click here to shop for Garnet jewellery online and create the perfect set, be that a beautiful Garnet necklace and earrings set, or bracelet.