Garnet: The Luminous Guide of Noah's Ark
In the coldest months of winter, the glowing flame in the fireplace keeps you warm and comforted through the night. That feeling of serenity and warmth is what garnet, the gemstone of winter, brings to its wearer. This fiery gemstone has been used for centuries as a symbol of love, passion, and to bring the recipient good luck and fortune through the darkest nights. In today's modern jewelry world, it is one of the most popular stones for its brilliant color and longevity. If you want to add a touch of glamour and allure to your jewelry collection, garnet is the right choice.
The Qualities of Garnet Gems
Thanks to their rich color spectrum, garnets today can quite happily keep pace with changes of style and the color trends of fashion. Alongside rubies, they may be the most popular red gemstone because they are typically deeper in hue and saturation than other red stones. Garnet comes in a variety of red shades, including burgundy, cherry red, pomegranate, and even lighter pink and orange shades. It can also be found in blue and green hues, though these are very rare and expensive. Garnet gemstones are some of the most eye-catching and luxurious stones in the modern world of jewelry making. Glowing with the crimson color of passion and restoration, garnet is the perfect choice as a traditional gift for the second wedding anniversary.
Garnets are a species of gemstone. They are not composed of a single mineral but is a group of closely related minerals that come in a variety of colors and chemical compositions. These different types have various uses, from the pure and transparent gemstones used in jewelry to opaque crystals used for abrasives and industrial purposes.
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The History of Garnet Gemstones
The word "garnet" comes from the Latin "granatus," which roughly translates to "seed." It was given this name because the earliest found garnet gemstones reminded miners of pomegranate seeds.
Valued for its vibrant red brilliance, this treasured gemstone was coveted by both the early Greeks and Romans. Nobility of the great Roman empire crafted signet rings they used to seal valued documents and transcripts. They were especially popular among royalty in the Roman empire and spread throughout the Meditteranean to symbolize love and wealth. Archeologists have discovered ancient jewelry and talismans from the remains of Egyptian tombs.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, Bohemia (modern Czech Republic) was the main source of garnet mining. Garnets come from a variety of worldwide regions, some specializing in different types of garnet: demantoid from Namibia and the Russian Ural Mountains; green tsavorites from Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania; and red garnets from those and India, Brazil, Australia, Europe, South America, China, Pakistan and the United States.
A wonderful icon of garnet artisanship is the antique Pyrope ("fiery-eyed") Hair Comb from the Victorian Era. Crafted from rose-cut, deep-red pyrope garnets from the Bohemia mines (now the Czech Republic), this gorgeous piece was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1937 by Ales and Maria Herdlicka.
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The Meaning of Garnet
Any deep-red cabochon gemstone was originally referred to as "carbuncles," with some said to shine with an internal light. Many sources say that Noah used a garnet lantern to guide his ark through the stormy nights at sea. It is now considered a symbol of good faith and given as a gift to wish safe travels. When someone wears the rock, they are said to be protected as the stone casts a fiery glow in the dark nights of winter to guide one safely to shore or through a difficult time in life.
The Hindi meaning of garnet has many traditions for which the stones play an essential role. Garnet is said to possess healing powers to help alleviate depression and ward off bad dreams and is a popular choice for rings and pendants to provide constant protection for the wearer.
In ancient Indian literature, a particular type called hessonite garnet—or "gomed"—is one of the nine jewels of the Navaratna. It is symbolic of the root chakra and has a variety of mystic healing properties to stimulate creativity, define and achieve goals, and overcome loss.
Battlefield warriors were known to wear garnet-inlaid armor or shields to protect themselves from harm. Hunza fighters (from Pakistan) were said to shoot garnet bullets in order to inflict greater wounds upon their enemies.
In the Victorian era (the Victorian Era, 1837-1901), garnet jewelry was also given as a gift for one's love interest to promise eternal fidelity to the recipient. Like the rose, its beautiful red color is symbolic of undying passion and joy. Vintage Estate garnet jewelry is extremely popular and the perfect heirloom gifts that will stay in the family for generations.
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Popular Garnet Jewelry
Garnet is typically paired with gold settings, but it looks equally stately in sterling silver and platinum designs. You can also find multi-gemstone pieces and sets in our collections that include rose quartz, amethyst, rhodolite, pearl, diamond, and other gemstones that pair well with garnet's striking color and structure.
Garnet is the birthstone of January, marking its significance as the first birthstone of the year. You are in good company with a January birthday—celebrities such as Katie Couric, Carolina Herrera, Kate Middleton and Faye Dunaway also celebrate birthdays in the first month. As versatile as it is beautiful, the red gem is a top choice for fine jewelry.
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Garnet Jewelry Care & Handling
Garnet jewelry will last for decades, but only if properly cared for. Many of our pieces use smaller cuts of garnet and may include other accent stones such as diamonds. For this reason, it is important to examine the piece regularly to ensure you do not lose a stone due to prolonged wearing.
Garnet is rated between 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, depending on the type and cut. This means that it is a reasonably durable gemstone that will resist scratching as long as it is protected. We recommend removing garnet jewelry before swimming, bathing, washing hands, or engaging in outdoor activity. Submergence in water over long periods can loosen the stone setting.
To clean your garnet jewelry, simply use soap and water and dry with a soft cloth. Ensure to rinse the piece well to prevent soap buildup, and always store it in your jewelry box or any safe place that does not expose it to sunlight. By storing properly, you will reduce the potential of color fading due to sun exposure.