Garnet - aren't these the wonderfully deep red gemstones which are often found in antique jewellery? Well, this is only the partial truth, as a warm and deep red is indeed the most frequently occurring colour for Garnets. But unfortunately only few people know that the realm of Garnets holds many more bright and beautiful colours. The traditional image of Garnet has been brightly transformed by spectacular founds, mainly from Africa. Although red remains the major colour, Garnets today easily adapt to any new colour trend in fashion due to the rich range available. And because of the new founds, there are reliable sources for steady supply in these fancy colours. All this explains why this very gemstone family manages to keep on providing new impulses for the jewellery events in our days.
An expert will understand "Garnet" as the denomination for a group of over ten different gemstones with a similar chemical structure. Although the colour red is the one which occurs most frequently, there are also Garnets showing different shades of green, pale to bright yellow, fiery orange and fine earth- and umbra-shades. Only blue is a colour which is not available in Garnet. Garnets are gemstones which are in high demand and are often worked into pieces of jewellery - especially since today not only the traditional gemstone colours red, blue and green are cherished by the consumer, but the intermediate shades and hues are also very popular. Besides the realm of Garnets also possesses rarities such as asterism or atones which change their colour from daylight to artificial light.
What else characterises this gemstone family? First of all, there is the excellent hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. This applies, with minor variations, to all the members of the Garnet group. And this is also an explanation why these gemstones are so excellent to wear. Garnets are quite sturdy and resistant to everyday wear and tear, and uncomplicated to work into jewellery. Only to hard impact or uncontrolled heating they will react adversely. Another point in favour of Garnets is their high refraction of light, the reason for the amazing brilliance of Garnets. The shape of the rough crystal is also interesting. Garnet, after all, means something like "the grainy" and is derived from the Latin word "granum" meaning "grain". This refers to the typically rounded shape of Garnet and also reminds of the seeds of the pomegranate. In the middle ages, Garnet was also called "karfunkel" in German, referring to the glowing red reminding of the sparks of fire. Today there are a lot of imaginative names used in the trade, such as Arizona Ruby, Arizona Spinel, Montana Ruby or New Mexico Ruby.
The Garnet illuminated already Noahs Ark
Garnets have been widely known for thousands of years. Even Noah, it is reported, used a lantern from Garnet in order to safely steer his Ark through the darkness of the night. Garnets are found in jewellery from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras. Many courageous discoverers and travellers wore Garnets for protection, as they were considered popular talismans and protective stones, because it was believed in those days that Garnets illuminate the night and prevent their wearer from any sort of evil. Today science explained to us that the proverbial luminosity of Garnet is caused by its high refraction of light.
Garnets come not only in many colours but also under many names: Andradite, Demantoid, Grossularite, Hessonite, Pyrope, Rhodolith, Tsavorith, Spessartine, Uwarowite etc.. Let us focus on the most important ones, and let us start with red Garnets. First of all, there is fiery red Pyrope. Its fierce and often slightly bronze coloured red was highly popular as gemstone colour in the 18th and 19th century. Worldwide renowned in those days were the Bohemian Garnets from an occurrence in the north-eastern part of the former Kingdom of Bohemia - small stones in a wonderful colour. In Europe they were frequently used for jewellery in Victorian times. This genuine Bohemian Garnet jewellery is traditionally decorated with many small stones which are tightly arranged along each other like the seeds of a pomegranate. Today Garnet is still found in the Czech Republic, and the stones are still arranged in the traditional way, tightly joined, so that the attraction of the classical Garnet jewellery is caused by the beauty of the stones only.
The large central stones of the typical "rosette" arrangements are usually also Garnets, but these come from another category. Almandines, named after the ancient gemstone city of Alabanda in Asia Minor, are c a little different in their chemical structure from Pyropes. Why these are preferred as central stones? Well, Nature only grows Pyropes in small sizes, but allows for Almandine crystals in larger dimensions.
Another red Garnet variety is Rhodolith, a crystal mixture from Almandine and Pyrope This popular red Garnet shows a wonderful velvety red with a fine purple or raspberry coloured undertone. Originally discovered in the USA, it is mainly found in gemstone mines in East Africa, India and Sri Lanka nowadays.
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