More than Just January’s Birthstone
Garnet Quick Facts
- garnet is available in many colours but most commonly red, orange, yellow, purple and green
- garnet is rarely treated, the colour and clarity of garnet is all natural
- garnet is a relatively soft stone, it has roughly the same hardness as glass
- it is best used in a pendant, earrings or cocktail (occasional wear) rings
Why I Love Garnet
My dad was born in January. He wasn’t really a winter person and I don’t think he much liked having his birthday during the cold months. But one thing he did seem to like was his birthstone. He had a yellow gold and garnet ring that he wore all of the time.
The wear and tear of everyday life slowly started to soften the facet edges of the stone. But rather than make the ring less beautiful, I feel like the wear made the ring even more special. It was like the ring experienced the same life and took it in. I love that ring.
So I’ve always had an appreciation for garnet gemstones. But once I became a jeweller I found an even greater appreciation. I had no idea of all of the varieties and colours of garnet!
But isn’t garnet just a deep red, you say? Oh no, there’s much more to this stone than the classic colour we all have in our mind. Let’s have a closer look together.
What is a Garnet?
Garnets are actually a group with many sub species. They are all very similar minerals but have slightly different chemical compositions and are grouped together because their crystal structures are so alike. Most varieties are very common and are found all over the world. But there are also some very rare kinds of garnets that are pretty fascinating.
Typically the subspecies of garnets are split into two groups. Pyrope, almandine and spessartine form one group and grossular, andradite and uvarovite form the other.
Pyrope and almandine garnet are typically what we think of when we think of garnet, a stone ranging in hue from reddish brown to deep red to reddish purple. Spessartine is rarer and can range in colour from deep red to orange-red to orange. A true orange is the most prized colour.
Garnets Used in Jewellery
I would wager that Mozambique garnet is what most of us think about when we think about garnet, that deep, dark red colour. Whereas most people would just call this “garnet”, jewellers call these garnets Mozambique garnets in order to distinguish them from other varieties. Obviously some of the most prized samples of this kind of garnet come from Mozambique.
Mozambique garnet is most often a combination of the pyrope and almandine varieties of garnet.
This is the traditional colour on the birthstone lists. But, if you’re not a fan, keep reading!
Rholodite garnet is one of my favourite garnet gemstones. It’s from the pyrope group of garnets and the colour can range from reddish pink to pink to reddish purple. I call them raspberry garnets.
I have this rhodolite garnet that I’m planning to make into a stunner of a cocktail ring!
Spessartine garnet is one garnet, I will admit, I have not had much experience with. They are from (you guessed it) the spessartine group, are found all over the world and tend to be coloured in the red to orange to yellow spectrum.
What I find most interesting is the category of blue pyrope-spessartine garnets that are colour change stones. Colour change garnets change from blue-green to purple depending on the colour temperature of the light. All colour change stones are very rare and usually much more expensive.
Hessonite garnet is typically found in orange hues ranging from orangey-yellow to orangey-red. Sometimes it’s called a cinnamon stone. A hessonite garnet is from the grossular sub species of garnets.
I’ve had a few really pretty hessonite garnets over the years. I still have one that I’ve been mulling over ideas for but haven’t quite had the time to make into something.
What in the heck is tsavorite and, more importantly, how do you pronounce it? The answer to the first question is it’s a green garnet from the grossular garnet group. The answer to the last question is, just drop the “T”.
It was first discovered in the Tsavo region of Kenya, hence the name. Sometimes it has been used in place of emerald due to it’s similar brilliant green and because tsavorite is less brittle than emerald, although less hard. High quality tsavorite is not always a less expensive choice than emerald. It’s actually 200 times more rare than emerald.
This is my other favourite garnet. Partly because of the name and partly because it’s so sparkly.
Demantoid garnet is the green variety of andradite and is very rare. It has a very high refractive index meaning it has a similar play of colour to diamonds. It is also slightly magnetic due to the iron content.
I have a pair of green demantoid garnet stud earrings in the shop that I set in 14k green gold that I just love. I think that’s the key. Make sure you love everything you make so that if they never sell you have a wonderful jewellery collection one day!
If you would like to explore this fascinating gemstone further I encourage you to check out more information on the GIA website.
Also, both the rhodolite and hessonite garnet stones pictured in this blog are available to make into your own one of a kind garnet jewellery. For more information please request a quote!
Thank you for joining me on our epic garnet adventure.
‘Til next time!