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History & Introduction

For those who are born in the month of January for them garnet is the birthstone. It is a wonderful stone with excellent features and a variety of uses. Garnet is not a single mineral, but a group contains closely related, isomorphs minerals that form a series with each other. Garnet mainly comes in red, and the origin of the name "garnet" lies in this deep red hue.

The name "garnet" is derived from the Medieval Latin word, "granatum" that is an adjective meaning "dark-red". The word might get its name from "pomegranate" because of the color of the seed coats or even shape. But, the word is derived from another Latin word of Medieval age; "granum", meaning red dye. The use of red garnet is mainly seen centuries back years, during the time of the Egyptian pharaohs for both decorative and ceremonial purposes. During ancient period the Romans wore garnet rings and traded garnet gemstones. In fact, in antiquity garnet with other red gemstones cut en cabochon.

The Latin word, "carbunculus" refers to a burning piece of coal or ember. This may have been indicated to garnet because of its bright color. Large deposits of red garnet were discovered in Bohemia (Central Europe) around the 16th century and later gain popularity in the jewelry industry in the area. Red is the most commonly occurring color, garnet is available in every color found. One of the most recently discovered colors of garnet is the blue garnet, which is rare. It was discovered in the late 1990s in Madagascar.

The variations of Garnets are very less in physical characteristics and some of the members are so alike that they are indistinguishable from each other without x-ray analysis. The members of each group intermingle with each other freely. They were even famous in the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. As per the Talmud, the only light on Noah's ark was given with the help of a large Garnet. During the medieval period of Europe, Garnet was a medium to nurture faith, truth and constancy, and to dismiss melancholy. Garnet even used as a talisman in the Crusades for both the Christians and their Muslim enemies.

Recognise - Garnet is recognized due to the availability in metamorphic rock, its hardness, color, refractive index and cubic crystal structure. However, the fastest way to know about garnet is with the use of strong neodymium magnets. Neodymium magnets attracts Garnet because of high concentrations of iron and/or manganese.

Availability - Different types of garnet is available in different locations in the world.
  • Pyrope: Tanzania, Myanmar (Burma), South Africa, China, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and the USA.
  • Pyrope (rhodolite): India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, USA and Thailand.
  • Almandite: Brazil, India, Sri Lanka and Madagascar, USA. Smaller deposits are found in Austria and the Czech Republic. Almandine garnet star-stones are extracted from India and the USA.
  • Spessartite: Brazil, China, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), Kenya, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the USA. The best specimens are available in Namibia known as "Mandarin spessartine (spessartite)".
  • Grossularite (hydrogrossular): Myanmar (Burma), South Africa and Zambia.
  • Grossularite (hessonite): Brazil, Madagascar, Canada, India, Tanzania and the USA.
  • Grossularite (leuco garnet): Canada, Mexico and Tanzania.
  • Grossularite (tsavorite): Tanzania and Kenya.
  • Andradite (demantoid): Russia, China, Korea, USA and Zaire.
  • Andradite (melanite): France, Germany, Italy and the USA.
  • Andradite (topazolite): Italy, Switzerland and the USA.
  • Uvarovite: Canada, Finland, Poland, India, Russia and the USA.

Usages - It is not only an ornamental jewel, but the strong curative powers and protective energies made the stone invaluable. Garnets are important minerals, and they are mainly in use for the gemstone uses. The specimen that is transparent are used in making different kinds of jewelry and dark red is the most extensively used color. Other Garnet forms such as the green Tsavorite, yellow Grossular, reddish-orange Spessartine and Demantoid even make fine gemstones.

Buying Guide

Color - Garnet is available in authentic colors like yellow, orange, green, peach, purple, red, blue (rare), brown and pink. But, the common color that occur is red and the rarest is blue. In case of color change varieties the occurrence of garnet is also rare, which have a different color depending on whether they are viewed in incandescent or natural light. The rarest color-change garnet appears blue in daylight, and under torch light the changes are to purplish-red. Other color-change garnets are beige, green, grey or brown in daylight, and change to reddish or purplish-pink under incandescent light. In fact the color of garnet is considered as the most important feature.

Clarity and Lustre - Garnet shows a vitreous (glassy) luster. The demantoid garnet that is a green kind of andradite, and consist of a high refractive index and is prized for its brilliance and adamantine (diamond-like) luster. Garnets are generally clean stones, still almandine garnets sometimes have an asbestos fiber presence. These additions are the reason of asterism (a star effect) that is treasured because of its rarity. Additionally, garnet with orange color like spessartite and hessonite tends to show eye-visible additions. Andradite garnet is famous for its distinctive, horsetail-like inclusions.

Cut and Shape - Garnets are completely versatile and can be cut in any fashion and shape. Red garnet are said to be cut into standard shapes, however in case of valuable garnets, which are not frequently found in large sizes, like tsavorite and demantoid, that are cut into shapes retaining the maximum carat weight.

Garnet Treatment - Garnet is not artificially enhanced.

Gemological Characteristics:

Chemical Formula The chemical composition of Garnet Group is several minerals. General A3B2(SiO4)3 Almandine Fe3Al2(SiO4)3 Andradite Ca3Fe2(SiO4)3 Grossular Ca3Al2(SiO4)3 Pyrope Mg3Al2(SiO4)3 Rhodolite (Mg, Fe)3Al2(SiO4)3 Spessartine Mn3Al2(SiO4)3
Color Black, yellow, red, brown, green, orange, pink, white, and colorless.
Hardness 6.5 - 8.0
Crystal System Isometric
Transparency From transparent to opaque
Specific Gravity 3.5 - 4.3
Luster Vitreous, adamantine, dull
Cleavage Not available
Fracture Conchoidal to uneven
Tenacity Brittle
Rock Type Sedimentary, Igneous, Metamorphic
Popularity (1-4) 1
Prevalence (1-3) 1
Demand (1-3) 1
Fluorescence Mainly not available


  1. Red Garnet
  2. Black Garnet
  3. Color- change Garnet
  4. Mozambique Red Garnet
  5. Spessarite Garnet
  6. Demantoid Garnet
  7. Hessonite
  8. Tsavorite Garnet
  9. Rhodolite Garnet
The common Garnets can be divided into two subgroups:
  • Group 1: Garnets containing aluminum (Al) as their second element. These include Pyrope, Almandine, and Spessartine. ("Pyralspite")
  • Group 2: Garnets containing calcium (Ca) as their first element.
  • These include Uvarovite, Grossular, and Andradite. ("Ugrandite")