Garnet Quick Facts
Color: Most common in dark red hues but available in a variety of other colors
Mohs Hardness Scale: 6.5-7.5
Symbolism & Meaning: Protection, friendship, trust, commitment and love
Official Birthstone Month: January
Zodiac Signs: Capricorn and Aquarius
What is Garnet
Garnets are a group of silicate minerals and are found in igneous and metamorphic rock all over the world. It comes in a variety of colors, with deep, rich red garnets being the most common. The garnet family is one of the most complex in the gem world. It’s not a single species but instead consists of several species and varieties.
The name garnet derives from the Latin word for grain due to the similarity between their rounded crystals and a pomegranate’s seeds. Garnet is the official birthstone for January and signifies protection, friendship, trust, commitment, and love. Garnet is also said to keep the wearer safe during travel.
Garnet Colors, Characteristics & Value
While it is most commonly known for its red color, there are actually many varieties and colors in the garnet family. 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
- Lotus – 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.
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. Generally, garnet is not treated to improve its color or clarity.
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 Care & Cleaning
When cleaning garnets, warm soapy water is recommended. An ultrasonic cleaner is usually safe but should be avoided when cleaning stones that have fractures. Steam cleaning is not recommended. If a garnet has been treated by fracture filling, only warm soapy water should be used for cleaning.
Garnets are a 6.5-7.5 on Moh’s Hardness Scale and have fair to good toughness, making them durable enough for all jewelry types. Garnets need to be treated with proper care and should not be subjected to hard blows or rough wear. When not worn, garnet jewelry should be stored in a jewelry box lined with soft fabric.
Garnet Jewelry & Gift Ideas
Whether you are shopping for yourself or someone else, Borsheims has an extensive selection of garnet jewelry in various styles. Garnet is a popular gift option for those celebrating January birthdays and those commemorating their 2nd wedding anniversary.