Garnets are a set of closely related minerals that form a group, resulting in gemstones in almost every color. There are more than twenty garnet categories, or species, but only five are considered gems: pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular and andradite.
Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems, found in metamorphic rocks – rocks altered by heat & pressure – on every continent. Not all garnets are as abundant as the reds. Demantoid, for example, is a rare and famous green garnet, spessartine (also called spessarite) is orange, and rhodolite is a beautiful purple-red. Garnets can even exhibit a color-change phenomenon!
Garnets are most typically found in Mali, Vietnam, India, Alaska & Mexico.
Facts & Folklore About Garnets
- The word “garnet” is derived from a term that means “seed,” because the gem resembles the color and shape of a pomegranate seed.
- The garnet symbolizes constancy, truth, and faith and was thought to keep the wearer safe during travel.
- In Asia, bullets were once made from garnets because it was believed that they would cause enemies to bleed more.
- In the middle ages, garnet was commonly believed to guard against poison. Royals would often drop a garnet gemstone into a glass of wine to ensure they were not poisoned to death.
- Not all mined garnets are worn as jewelry; lower-quality garnets are used in products such as garnet-coated sandpaper.
- Garnets were also thought to prevent nightmares. If you dream of losing a garnet necklace, unexpected good fortune is in your future.
Garnets maintained their popularity through the Ages and were extensively used for Bohemian jewelry in the 18th and 19th centuries. Garnets were very fashionable in Victorian times as well.
Of course with a variety of colors available, garnets are still popular today. They can be used alone, or in combination with other stones – see some great garnet pieces below!
Sources: GIA & Farmers Almanac