I’ve always loved garnets and I use them in many of my jewelry designs. Garnets have been known and used in jewelry and other applications since ancient times. At one time, garnets were referred to as Carbuncles. Although garnets occur in a wide range of colors and can be found in every color except blue, most people think of garnets as being red – the color of the Pyrope and Almandite varieties. Garnet is the birthstone for January.
There are several distinct types of garnets and the often slight differences in their chemical makeup are at the core of the different colors. All the different garnets have related crystal structures and similar refractive indices. Most are beautiful gemstones that can be used for jewelry.
The primary types are listed below, but there are also sub-categories for each type and I also listed the most popular of those.
Pyrope garnet (Red, often with a brownish tint). The famous Bohemian garnets used in jewelry in the 1700s and 1800s are Pyrope garnets. These garnets are generally found in Myanmar, China, Madagascar, South Africa, and the US among other locations.
Almandite garnet (Red with a violet tint) is found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Austria, Sri Lanka, Czechoslovakia, and the US. It is easily confused with Pyrope. Another red garnet variety, the Rhodolite garnet, is chemically between Pyrope and Almandine.
Spessarite garnet (Orange to red-brown) The name for these garnets is derived from their occurrence in the Spessarit (forest) in Germany but it is also found in many of the same locations as other garnet varieties.
Grossularite garnets are green and are easily confused with other gemstones (tourmaline for instance). These stones are found in Siberia, Vermont, and Sri Lanka among other locations. Hessionite garnets are a subgroup that is a gorgeous orange brown in color. Another subgroup of Grossularite garnet is Tsavorite garnet, a green to emerald green variety found in Kenya and Tanzania.
Andradite garnet (black, brown, yellow). Demantoid garnets are also in this group. Demantoid garnet is the most valuable garnet – it occurs in green to emerald green and has a high luster. Demantoid garnets can be easily confused with grossularite and with peridot.
Melanite is a black garnet subvariety of Andradite garnets.
Uvarovite (emerald green) This variety is not generally found in gemstone quality
Gemstone Lore: Garnet is believed to be a stone of regeneration and stability. It is said to foster positive thoughts. Garnet reportedly can boost your energy. It is thought to aid with depression because it draws happiness to you and helps uplift your outlook.