Garnet
 
The Garnet traces its roots to the Nile Delta, 3100 B.C., where Egyptian artisans would craft the gemstone into beads or inlay them into hand-wrought jewelry.  Noah used Garnet as a lamp on his bow as he cast about on the ocean.   Garnet received its name from the ancient Greeks because the color reminded them of the "granatum," or pomegranate seed.
 
The versatile Garnet comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red 'Bohemian Garnet' to the vibrant greens of the 'Russian Demantoid Garnet' and 'African Tsavorite Garnet'.  The oranges and browns of Spessartite and Hessonite hail from Namibia and Sri Lanka,  where the subtle pinks and purples of the rhododendron flower, are also yours to explore.
 
Garnet is the traditional Birthstone for the month of January, however, not necessarily the red Garnet.  Rich orange and golden hues, striking greens, petal soft colors of violet and lavender, all await your selection.
 
Garnets are most commonly found in round, oval, and cushion cuts.   Availability depends on variety: Tsavorite Garnet is very difficult to find in sizes above a carat or two, while Rhodolite Garnet is available in larger sizes.
 
Aren't Garnets those wonderful deep-red gemstones you often find in antique jewelry?    Well, yes, to a certain extent a deep, warm red is the color most frequently found in Garnets.   However, few are aware Garnets are far more colorful.  Spectacular finds, especially in Africa, have enhanced the traditional image of the Garnet with a surprising number of hues - even if red does continue to be its principal color.
 
The term 'Garnet' defines a group of more than ten different gemstones of similar chemical composition.    Red (often referred to as the color 'garnet') is the color most often encountered, but Garnets also exist in various shades of green, light to intense yellow, a fiery orange and some fine earth-toned hues.  The only color it cannot offer is blue.  Garnets are a much sought-after gemstone.   Not only does it offer the traditional red and green which are so highly esteemed, but also the fine hues in between.   Furthermore, the world of the Garnets is also rich in rarities such as Star Garnets and gemstones whose color changes with the lighting source.
 
Garnets have a good hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale.  With a few minor exceptions, this applies to all the members of the Garnet group, giving this gemstone excellent wearability.  When working with Garnets, they are relatively uncomplicated.   The only thing they really do not like is being knocked about or subjected to improper heat treatment.   A further plus of this gemstone is its high refractive index, the reason for the Garnet's great brilliance.   The shape of the raw crystals is also interesting.   The name Garnet comes from the Latin 'granum' meaning 'the grainy one'.   This is in reference not only to the typical roundish shape of the crystals, but also to the color of the red Garnet, which are reminiscent of pomegranate seeds.   In the Middle Ages, the red Garnet was also called the 'carbuncle stone'.   Today the Garnet is given fantasy names like Arizona Ruby, Arizona Spinel, Montana Ruby or New Mexico Ruby, even though the Garnet is not in the Sapphire or Ruby family of gemstones.
 
 
The Warm Red of the Garnet Illuminated Noah's Ark
 
Noah used a Garnet lantern to help him steer the ark through the dark night.  Garnets are also found in jewelry from early Egyptian, Greek and Roman times.   Many an explorer and traveler liked to carry a Garnet as it was considered a protective stone.   It was believed to light up the night and protect its bearer from evil and disaster.  Today, we know the Garnet's 'luminosity' comes from its high refractive index.
 
Not only do Garnets have many colors, they also have many names: Almandine, Andradite, Demantoid, Grossularite, Hessonite, Pyrope, Rhodolite, Tsavorite, Spessartine, and Uvarovite are just a few.   First, there is the fiery red Pyrope.    Its spirited red, often with a slight brownish nuance, was a gemstone color much in demand in the 18th and 19th centuries.  In Europe, they were worked into jewelry a good deal, especially in the Victorian
 
period.   Genuine Bohemian Garnet jewelry was traditionally set with a large number of small stones close together like the seeds of a pomegranate.    Garnets are still found in former Czechoslovakian jewelry, set close together according to the old tradition.   The large central stones of the typical 'rosettes' are found to be Garnet, though they belong to a different category.  For the 'Almandines', named after Alabanda, an ancient city, have a chemical composition that differs somewhat from that of the Pyrope.
 
A further Garnet variety, also red, is the Rhodolite Garnet, a mixed crystal of Almandine and Pyrope.  This popular Garnet is of a magnificent velvety red with a fine violet or raspberry-red undertone.   Originally found in the USA, it now comes mainly from the gemstone mines in East Africa, India and Sri Lanka.
 
 
The Colorful Garnet
 
Like fiery comets against the evening sky, the first Mandarin Garnets appeared in the gemstone trade in 1991 A.D., just a little over ten years ago.   Specialists and gemstone lovers all agreed: the magnificent colors and high brilliance of these orange-red treasures are unique.
 
This rare Garnet was found at the Kunene River, on the border between Namibia and Angola.   The deposit of radiant orange-red 'Spessartites' from the Garnet family, originally named after the site of a find made in Germany, had led a quiet, shadowy existence as a rare gemstone for collectors due to the lack of quality crystals, until the momentous discovery in Namibia which produced unusually fine, intensely radiant orange stones with few inclusions.   Until this discovery, the Spessartines had been found in Sri Lanka, Upper Burma, Madagascar, Brazil, Australia, Kenya and Tanzania, yet were virtually unknown in the jewelry industry.   The trade name, 'Mandarine Garnet', has been given to this wonderfully orange noble Garnet.  The Namibia mine was only exploited for a few years, but another deposit of the orange treasure was discovered in Nigeria in 1994 A.D.   Their color and brilliance are so similar to those of the Mandarin Garnets from Namibia that only an experienced specialist can discern the subtle differences.
So what makes the mandarin garnet so special?   First, of course, is its color, the radiant orange, sometimes with slight brown undertones, in a whole range of hues from ripe peach to deep reddish-orange.     In Asia, art gods are often clothed in orange robes, and even the sky can be orange.   The colors yellow and red (which combine to make orange) are not opposites in Asia, but are instead related.   The robes of Buddhist monks are orange, made from a single piece of material.   Orange stands for the process of all life.   Life means change - and in Asia, orange symbolizes that constant change.
 
Apart from its magnificent color, the Mandarin Garnet has other good qualities which make it a unique gemstone.   Its has a good hardness and a very high refractive index, which gives it unusually strong brilliance. Even in unfavourable lighting conditions, small, brilliant-cut Mandarin Garnets will sparkle with great vivacity. And then of course there is its rarity.
 
 
A World of Green
 
Several varieties of green Garnet are known.   The 'Grossularite', created in many fine tones of yellow, green and brown and esteemed for its many fine interim hues and earth colors.   At the end of the 20th century, extensive Grossularite deposits were discovered in Mali.  The Mali Garnets captivated us with their great brilliance.  Even the brown tones, which are not normally popular, seems vivid and natural, going particularly well with ethnologically inspired trends.
 
Probably the best known green Garnet is the Tsavorite or Tsavolite, which also belongs to the Grossularite group.  Tiffany's in New York gave it this name when the emerald-green stone was discovered in 1967 A.D. near the Tsavo National Park by British geologist Campbell R Bridges.   Due to difficulties in extracting the crystals, he continued his exploration which lead him to Kenya.   There he was able to officially register and exploit this fabulous gemstone. 
 
The green of the Tsavorite Garnet runs from vivid and light to deep and velvety and, like all garnets, it has particularly good brilliance, having a refractive index of 1.734/44.  The color range of the Tsavorite Garnet includes a springlike light green, intense blue-green and a deep forest green - colors which have a refreshing and invigorating effect on the senses.   Old legends say, truthfully, that a Garnet was a difficult thing to hide.  Its sparkling light was said to remain visible even through clothing.
 
Unlike many other gemstones, the Tsavorite Garnet is neither burnt (heat-treated) nor oiled.  This gemstone has no need of treatment. Like all Garnets it is simply a piece of pure, unadulterated creation.   The Garnet has almost the same hardness as the Emerald, approximately 7.5 on the Mohs scale.   But, unlike the Emerald, the Tsavorite Garnet is not likely to crack or splinter as a result of an incautious movement.  Thanks to its great brilliance, the Tsavorite Garnet is, in this respect, a partner to match the classics: Diamond, Ruby and Sapphire.
 
Only in rare individual cases is a raw crystal of over 5 carats found, so a cut Tsavorite Garnet of more than two carats is rare and precious.   One of the special features of this gemstone is that it can display its great luminosity even in small sizes.
 
The star of green Garnets is the rare Demantoid Garnet, a gemstone for connoisseurs and gemstone lovers.  Its brilliance is positively tremendous, even greater than that of the Diamond.   Russia's premier jeweler, Carl FabergĂ©, loved the brilliant green Demantoid Garnet found in the Urals, more than anything else, and used it in his creations.   The Demantoid Garnet is no longer as scarce, thanks to some new finds in Namibia.  Demantoid Garnets from Namibia are of good color and brilliance, but lacking in one tiny feature: the so-called 'horse-tail inclusions'.   These fine, bushy inclusions are a typical feature by which a Russian Demantoid Garnet is recognized.
 
The name 'Demantoid' comes from the Dutch term for "Diamond-like" in reference to the outstanding quality of this gem, its incomparable brilliance and fire.  Some gemstone lovers claim that a Demantoid Garnet will continue to glow even in the shade.
 
The Demantoid is actually a variety of the Garnet mineral Andradite.   But more than that, it is the most expensive kind of Garnet and one of the most precious of all gemstones.   It is highly esteemed due to its rarity and incredible luminosity.  Even though the Demantoid Garnet has an extremely high refraction index of 1.880 to 1.889, yet its high dispersion is also remarkable (its ability to split the light which comes in through the facets and break it down into all the colors of the rainbow).  Due to this, the Demantoid Garnet has an even greater dispersion than the Diamond.
 
The spectrum of its colors includes many shades of green, from a slightly yellowish green to a brownish green with a golden glow.   Particularly precious is a deep emerald green, though this occurs very rarely.  It is not only fine and unusual, but large specimens are extremely rare.   Once cut,  few stones weigh more than two carats, and most of them hardly exceed one carat.
 
There have been a good many beautiful gems which appeared like shooting-stars in the fascinating world of gemstones and vanished from the scene again after only a short time.  That indeed is probably what would have happened to the Demantoid Garnet had it not been for the Namibian find.
 
After its discovery in 1868 A.D. in Russia's Ural mountains, the Demantoid Garnet rapidly became a much desired gemstone.   It scintillated among the finest jeweler's workshops in Paris, New York and St. Petersburg.  First and foremost, however, was the adoration of Carl FabergĂ©.   After the chaos of World War I, the green star began to fade rapidly making rare appearances in  second-hand jewelry or remnant stocks from the places where it had originally been found in the Urals.  Occasionally, Demantoid Garnets were found in other parts of the world, including the Congo.   Then, in 1975 A.D. some crystals were found in Korea, but the quality of these stones was such that they were suitable for collectors' use only.   When, in the mid-1990s, a new seam bearing gemstones was discovered in Namibia, Demantoid Garnets were among them.   In December 1996, quite by chance, a wandering goatherd found a number of crystal-like objects which seemed worthy of attention.   He showed them around a nearby village, and the attention of experts was drawn to the find, which they quickly realized was a treasure being presented them.
 
 
Gemstones for Every Fashion Trend
 
Anyone who loves what is pure, natural and the warm, sun-bathed colors of late summer will be fired with enthusiasm by the color spectrum of the Garnet.   Today, Garnets mostly come from Africa, India, Russia, and Central and South America.   The skilled hands of cutters the world over work them into many classical shapes, but also increasingly into modern, imaginative designer cuts.   Garnets remain convincing with their  unadulterated beauty, the variety of their colors and tremendous brilliance.
 
 
 
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