What is Garnet
The name garnet derives from the Latin word for grain because of the similarity of their rounded crystals to the seeds of a pomegranate. The garnet is most commonly known for its deep red color, but is actually found in a spectrum of colors and found in igneous and metamorphic rock all over the world. All garnets have similar crystal structures, their varying colors come from traces of calcium, magnesium, iron, and aluminum, depending on their location. They are found in Europe, Madagascar, India, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and the US. Only a small percentage of mined garnets are gemstone quality, most are crushed and used in garnet paper and other abrasives.
Garnet Color and Characteristics
While it is most commonly known for its red color, there are actually many varieties and colors in the garnet family. Garnet is not generally treated to improve color or clarity. The following is a list of the more common garnet gemstones and their colors:
Almandite – the most common garnet, a red with a violet tint
Rhodolite – purplish red or rose colored garnet
Pyrope – from the Greek word for fiery, deep red stone often with a brown tint
Hessonite – brownish-red or cinnamon color
Spessartite – orange to red-brown in color; purer forms of this garnet are also referred to as mandarin garnet
Malaia – pinkish-orange, orange, or reddish-orange
Tsavorite – green to bluish-green
Demantoid – green to bluish-green, the name means diamond-like luster
Discovered in late 2015, lotus garnet is a newer variety that has a unique pinkish orange to orangey pink color. It is a mix of pyrope, spessartine and almandine garnet and is usually found with rhodolite garnet or spinel.
Bright, clear colors and few inclusions will command higher prices in any garnet. The rarest and most valuable garnets are the tsavorite and the demantoid with their green tones. Rhodolite in its red hues and spessartite in bright orange red hues are also uncommon and considered valuable.
Garnet is easily cared for, requiring cleaning with a gentle solution made specifically for jewelry. Borsheims also offers small “ultrasonic” cleaners that clean your jewelry with high-frequency sound. It is important to have your jewelry professionally cleaned and checked three to four times a year. When not worn, garnet jewelry should be stored in a jewelry box lined with soft fabric.