Garnet forms under high temperatures and pressure in metamorphic rock. It is also used by geologists as an indication of the temperatures and pressures at which the rock was formed.
Garnet occurs in a beautiful range of natural colours including red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, black, pink and clear, although red is the colour which occurs most frequently and which most of us associate with Garnet.
There are over 30 varieties of Garnet which all fall into one of the following six families/species: Almandine, Andradite, Grossularite, Pyrope, Spessartite and Uvarovite
Garnet Varieties and colours
Pyrope – red garnet, frequently with brown tint.
Rhodolite – purplish red or rose-coloured.
Almandite – red with violet tint.
Spessartite – orange to red-brown garnet. The best specimen is “Mandarin Spessartine” from Namibia.
Grossularite – colourless, green, yellow or brown.
Hydrogrossular – dense, opaque greenish variety of grossularite.
Hessonite – brown-red variety of garnet
Leuco garnet – colourless variety of grossularite
Tsavorite – green to emerald green.
Andradite – black, brown, yellow-brown garnet.
Demantoid – the most valuable (and rare) garnet, green to emerald green
Melanite – opaque black variety of andradite.
Tapazolite – yellow to lemon yellow, topaz-like variety of andradite.
Uvarovite – emerald green garnet but rarely occurring as a gemstone quality garnet.
Garnet is mined in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, South America, Tanzania and USA.
Traditional legends, gemstone folklore and healing properties of Garnet
The name Garnet derives from the Latin word “granatum”, which means pomegranate, because the gemstone resembles the seeds of the fruit. Garnet is steeped in history and jewellery containing Garnet has been dated back to around 3500BC. Garnet was used in jewellery by the Aztecs, Ancient Egyptians, Romans, Native Americans and the Victorians. It is said to be the first of the twelve gemstones set in the ceremonial breastplate of Aaron, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, as described in the Old Testament book of Exodus. Garnet was also believed to have the ability to illuminate and ancient legend says that Noah used them to light up the Ark. Many early explorers and travellers carried a garnet stone as it was a popular talisman and protective stone. It was believed to light up the night and protect its bearer from evil and disaster. However science has since taught us that the Garnet’s luminosity comes from its high refractive index.
Garnet is regarded as the stone of passion, devotion and romance. It is said to be a powerful stone of attraction and is believed to increase sexual desire and fertility, encourage love, devotion and commitment in relationships. Garnet is also thought to attract good luck in business ventures. It is also claimed to change negative energies to positive ones, promote warmth, wisdom and understanding, and increase internal focus. Garnet is believed to stimulate the senses, and increase vitality and stamina.
Some healers use it as a cure for nightmares. It is believed to stimulate the bloodstream & pituitary gland, combat depression and lethargy. It also symbolizes fire, faith, courage, truth, grace, compassion, constancy and fidelity.
Garnet is the birthstone for January and relates to the zodiac sign of Capricorn. It is also the gemstone for the second wedding anniversary.