Garnet is a rainbow of gemstones. With the exception of blue it is found in every color of the spectrum. It may have the red of fine ruby or the green of rich emerald. Garnet has been dubbed the gem of faith, constancy and truth. Asiatic tribes carved garnets into bullets in the belief that their fiery color would inflict more deadly wounds. They were ground into powder for the treatment of fever or jaundice. If the cure didn't work, the apothecary was accused of using an imitation.
The Rainbow Family
The garnet is a family of gems rather than a single gemstone. Most garnets are readily available in fine qualities, so a wide selection is available at affordable prices. Best known among the garnets are the deep red almandine and pyrope garnets. The almandine is what most people think of when garnet is mentioned. It is a dark, slightly brownish or violetish-red. The pyrope tends to have less brown in it. Fine quality pyrope may be confused with a dark ruby, but medium quality looks much like almandine.
A garnet that has become increasingly favored in recent years is the rhodolite. Its lively violetish-red calls to mind a light-filled glass of rose wine. It may resemble a violetish ruby or a plum sapphire.
The rhodolite was widely used in Greece during the period between the reign of Alexander the Great and the conquest of Rome. Alexander had just popularized the cutting of cameos from precious stones, and this gem lent itself well to the task. Engravers gave these cameos a flat base and a convex top in which they etched their designs. This was the forerunner of the popular cabochon (dome-shaped) cut still popular today.
Spessartite takes one into the oranges from tangerine to cinnamon. The bright golden or burnished hessonite is a popular variety.
In the late '60s a new garnet was discovered which made green an important garnet color. This is the tsavorite, named after the Tsavo region of Africa. Its color may resemble a sunlit meadow or the finest emerald. The increasing scarcity of fine emerald has contributed to its importance.
The very rare demantoid variety of andradite is an emerald green with diamond-like fire. Uvarovite garnet may also be emerald green, but it is found only in tiny sizes.
Continuing its masquerade of the world's most precious gemstones is a translucent green grossularite which resembles fine jade.
Within the diversified garnet family is something for everyone. Deep red, cabochon-cut garnets are often set into men's rings, tie tacks and cuff links. Surrounded by a bold expanse of gold, they are important enough for every well-dressed businessman and elegant enough to make the transition into evening wear. The color dramatically accents grey, black, navy, camel and rust. It complements tweeds as easily as it does gabardines.
Garnets are a basic for the businesswoman's wardrobe. Garnets of all colors are fashioned into rings, pendants, pins and earrings. Red and violet garnets are often strung into beads to be worn alone or in combination with pearls or gold beads.
Garnets are also smart for any social occasion. Designs range from delicate accents to jeweled masterpieces. A large garnet set with diamonds is perfectly comfortable at the most glamorous affairs.
Garnet is a favorite in children's jewelry. It is set into dainty swirls, hearts and roses for rings, pendants and earrings. It is often chosen as the starter piece in a young girl's collection.
Making A Wise Purchase
Since subtle differences in quality can make large differences in beauty (and price), it is important to select your jewelry from a professional who can guide you honestly and ethically in your purchase. Our firm is a member of the American Gem Society. As a condition of membership, we are re-examined each year to meet the Society's high standards for knowledge, professionalism and integrity. The AGS symbol is the hallmark of consumer protection within the jewelry profession - as it has been for over 50 years. Many gems are processed to enhance their natural beauty. Ask your American Gem Society jeweler to discuss which techniques might apply to the gem of your choice.