David's Antiques and Jewelry

G is for Garnet

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Thousands of years ago in ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents. Later the Aztecs and the Eastern Asiatic tribes wood carve the garnet into arrowheads to go battle and later bullets out of garnets.

Garnets are one of the oldest gemstones in human history and the most popular. Being one of the semi-precious stones, the garnet is not to be confused with the beautiful red ruby. The only thing they have in common is their beautiful vibrant red color. Garnets are a very affordable stone and on the hardness scale of 6.5-8.0 which allows it to be used in different types of setting without harming the stone.

Different types of garnets occur in different locations of the world. Sri Lanka is a major supplier of the Rhodolite garnet, with its beautiful dark reddish pink hue. Other types of garnet are  Mozambique which is reddish brown and Spessartine, golden orange, which are all mined in India, Tanzania, Kenya & Myanmar. A much rarer garnet gem is the Green Tsavorite which forms in rock and the chemistries conditions to form.

The garnets high refractive index 1.71-1.88 gives onlookers the impression that the gem is emitting light.

Red garnet’s availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in Central Europe around the 1500’s.

Garnets are valued by the 4 C’s, Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat.  Color that includes the affordable dark red varieties, rare and valuable green, to the many colors in between. Clarity- most red garnets often do not have eye visible inclusions. Cut-garnets are cut into all shapes and calibrated sizes because of its hardness. Last, Carat- Garnets can be found in all sizes and weighs. Tsavorite are more commonly found in smaller sizes so their value goes up significantly with size.

Caring for your Garnet.  Using only soapy water and soft brush can make your stone come alive. Always make sure you rinse the stone thoroughly after washing. Do not steam clean your garnets, but ultrasonic can be used on all garnets except the demantoid variety. Like all stones, protect it from harsh chemicals.

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  • Ester Edry
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