Garnet stones can be found in a wide variety of locations including Kenya, Brazil and Canada. It has been used throughout history and its name is derived from the Latin word for seed ‘granatus’ due to the colour similarities to pomegranate seeds. There are twenty-nine different types of garnet appearing in a wide rainbow of colours from red and orange to green, yellow and pink. The most common form of garnet found in jewellery is the red semi-precious gemstone pyrope, although it is generally referred to as garnet. Pyrope derives its name from the Greek word ‘pyropos’, meaning ‘fiery eyed’.
The combination of its dazzling beauty, versatility and relative affordability has made this beautiful gemstone very popular, particularly with jewellery designers. Given the name the ‘fashion gem’ of the eighteenth and nineteenth century garnets are very versatile lending themselves to a variety of different forms of jewellery from rings to pendants. Garnets soft, warm colour is shown to its best advantage when set in yellow and gold jewellery.
The MOH scale measures a gems relative hardeness on a scale of one to ten based on the stones ‘scratchability’. Diamond is the hardest at ten, while garnet measures seven and a half, making it a relatively hardwearing stone. Garnet is a very durable gemstone which makes it perfect for use in jewellery however care must be taken to ensure the item does not become damaged and remains looking its glorious best. It is recommended that garnet jewellery is removed when doing heavy work to protect the stone from accidental knocks and bumps and damage. Garnets should be cleaned using warm soapy water and a soft toothbrush to remove any dirt from behind the stone.
Not only does this stone look so beautiful and it is relatively easy to care for, it is also swamped in legend and folk stories. It is believed to have mystical powers and that when it is worn close to the body it provides energy and courage. It is also said to encourage good health and that it will enhance the wearer’s imagination. The garnet symbolises fire, courage, truth, compassion and also protects travellers. It is the birth stone for January.
I hope that this article goes someway to explain the background, beliefs and characteristics of this striking gemstone and that you know feel equipped with the knowledge and know how to select and care for your garnet jewellery.