The infinite variety of garnets

Garnets come from a highly complex group of minerals. They are never found in their pure state but occur in blends with other minerals having the same crystal structure. Each blend has its own colour varieties. The most common gem in the garnet family is the almandine garnet and one of the rarest is the andradite which is highly prized for its brilliance.

Red garnets are mined in Orissa, India while the rare reddish-orange spessartite garnets are sourced in Myanmar. Different varieties of garnet are found around the world in Africa, South America and Russia. The smooth polished cabochon cut is popular for garnets in jewellery, but other cuts are also used according to the quality of the gemstone. Garnets are heat sensitive and should not be exposed to extreme heat.

Garnet colours – red and much more

Red garnets are the better-known variety, largely due to their availability, and they are generally more popular in jewellery. However, garnets occur in myriad colours, including reds, pinks, oranges, yellow, greens, browns, and even blues. This colourful attribute makes garnets the most versatile of gemstones, suited to all settings and materials.

Different varieties of garnet have distinct hues: pyrope and almandine range from purple to orangey-red, andranite occurs in yellow and yellowish-green, while spessartine comes in a variety of oranges. Grossular has the widest colour range of all the garnets, from colourless to yellow, orange-red to a bright vibrant green.

As garnets are found in a variety of colours, they are graded based on how vivid and saturated each type is. This relates to the strength, depth, and intensity of the primary colour. Red garnets (almandine, pyrope and rhodolite) do not usually have visible flaws, but certain other varieties tend to have eye-visible inclusions.

What you might not know about garnets

Garnet comes from the Latin word ‘granatus’, meaning seed, because the red coloured varieties resemble pomegranate seeds.

Garnets symbolise friendship and were once exchanged to show loyalty, affection and to confirm that those exchanging this beautiful gem would meet again. Garnets mark both the 2nd and the 6th wedding anniversaries. The fiery red colour variety represents passion and intimacy, making them the perfect gift for a romantic occasion.

As the January birthstone, a garnet and pearl ring is famously worn by The Duchess of Cambridge, whose birthday is in January.

You will find at The Jewellery Room a range of beautifully set garnet rings, necklaces, and bracelets here.