The word “garnet” comes from the Latin word “granum” which means “grainy seed” and from the 14th century Middle English word “gernet” meaning ‘dark red’. When someone is asked what a garnet looks like, they typically think of the “pomegranate” red stone. A garnet is far more versatile and is now found in almost every color imaginable. In fact, a group of more than ten different gemstones of similar chemical composition make up the garnet group. While the red variety of a garnet is abundant and inexpensive, more exotic garnets, such as the demantoid, can cost nearly the amount of a sapphire.
Hardness: Garnet is a fairly hard gemstone being 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale.
Color: Garnets are found in many colors including: red, brown, orange, green, yellow, purple, black, pink and colorless. Red is the most common occurring garnet.
Birthstone: Garnet is the January birthstone. On the Zodiac chart, it is listed as the stone for Aquarius.
Scarcity: The red variety of garnet is fairly common but other colored garnets are more rare.
Value: The plentiful red garnet is fairly inexpensive but a demantoid and flawless tsavorite, with their emerald green color are today’s most valuable garnets.
Most Common Cuts: Garnets are relatively inflexible and uncomplicated to work with. Garnets qualify for any cut and come in various shapes.
Chemical Formula: All garnets have the same general chemical formula, X3Y2(SiO4)3 where X can be calcium, magnesium, ferrous iron, or manganese, and Y can be aluminum, ferric iron, or chromium, or in rare instances, titanium.
Synthetic Varieties: Garnets are not often artificially enhanced in any way.
History: Garnets have a long history and have been known to man for thousands of years. The Bible references garnets being the stone in Noah’s lantern that led him through the dark nights on his ark. Due to its highly reflective quality, many early travelers carried a garnet with them, because it was believed to light up the night and protect its owner from evil and disaster. Garnets were also set in shields, buckles and other items worn by Crusaders because the stone was believed to give courage and protect them from harm.
Red garnets were also commonly used as gemstones in the Late Antique Roman world and were found in early England inlaid in gold cells and jewelry. Many records have shown that early Egyptian, Greek and Romans wore garnets in jewelry. The spirited red variety of garnet continued to be extremely popular in Europe in the 1700 and 1800’s.
Later, other uses for garnets were found. Garnet sand works well as an abrasive and used as a replacement for silica sand in sand blasting. Garnet can also be used to cut steel and other materials in water jets. Garnets have been found in a vast number of locations including: China, Madagascar, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United States, Thailand, Brazil, Austria, the Czech Republic, Kenya, Namibia, Myanmar, Zambia, Canada, Russia, Mexico, Korea, Zaire, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, India and Poland.
Currently, the garnet is the state mineral of several states in the United States. Garnet is also the wedding anniversary gemstone associated with the 2nd and 6th years of marriage.
Rumored Healing Properties: The healing powers of gems remain a controversial issue, but the garnet has been named by many as a source for healing ailments as well as being a positive force. As far as treating physical symptoms, garnets are said to be helpful with inflammations of the skin, hemorrhage, rheumatism, thyroid, high blood pressure, pancreas, varicose veins and problems with testicles and toenails. It is also supposed to help with curing depression and lethargy, and increase sexual drive and passion. Some say if you put this stone under your pillow and it will ward off bad dreams.
The garnet is said to increase success in your career, lead to prosperity, and is a positive source for building healthy relationships. As for romantic relationships, the garnet is often used in wedding jewelry due to the belief that it will bring in unconditional love, happiness, passion, romance, devotion and stability. A garnet can be held in the hand or placed on top of the head to meditate on past lives.