Garnet, a derivative of the Latin word Granatum that means seed, is the official birthstone of January. Granitum is the gemstone’s reference due to how much it resembles the seeds within a pomegranate fruit. Specifically, the Latin word means “like grain” and makes reference to the crystals that are embedded within the gemstone’s pattern that resemble either grains or seeds.
According to historical documents, Egyptians started using garnet in jewelry pieces as early as 3100 BC. However, historians have made note that garnet started being mined as far back as prehistoric times. In 1878, Henry Hudson Barton was the first in history that appears to be recorded in the industrial trade to have manufactured garnet as a sandpaper coating in the United States. Fourteen states in the country contain garnet deposits in multiple locations allowing United States production to continuously see growth in industrial, consumer, and gem-trade industries.
The most common sources of garnet in today’s United States gem-trade:
- Sri Lanka
Wearers of this gemstone need to be careful because, while most jewelers know it has a tendency for being brittle and that it can chip easily; this information does not always trickle down to the consumer. Garnet is known to display the widest assortment of color of any other mineral, appearing in every hue except for blue.
The most common colors for garnet found in jewelry stores are:
- Almandine: the color varieties of these gemstones appear in brown red, brownish black, deep red, and violet red.
- Pyrope: this is a Greek word meaning, “fire like,” and the colors it comes in range from crimson, to dark red, to orangey red, to pinkish red, and to purplish red.
In addition to being a beautiful jewelry inlay for those wearing birthstones, garnet is a traditional gift presented on a second or sixth wedding anniversary. Traditional jewelry pieces make a beautiful gift, especially when you look beyond what is typically found in the jewelry stores. For example, rather than picking up common gemstones like Almandine and Pyrpe, consider purchasing more unusual gemstones like Andradite or Rhodolite.
If you choose Andradite, which is a garnet gemstone that is yellow-ish green in color, you are going to be in competition because this is a rare and very sought after gemstone. Named after mineralogist, dÂ’Andrade, this dazzling gemstone is featured in private collections in the USSR, New York and California because its mining sources are so limited.
You may have better luck finding Rhodolite, which is a garnet gemstone featuring color variations that fall right between those of Almandine and Pyrope, making it a popular choice for those looking to veer away from commercial gemstones. The stone, even though it is still considered in the “common color” garnet family is found most often in a purplish red hue. There are arguments between scholars as to the derivative of the word Rhodolite, some saying it is a Greek word and other saying it is not. The consensus is that the underlying definition is tied to the color of the stone being comparable to a flower, though. At least that much can be agreed upon.