Gemstone Spotlight: Garnet

garnet gemstone
by: Ben Tseytlin - on Antiques & Jewelry

Garnets are gemstones which are not comprised of one mineral, but an assortment of minerals that are closely related and which come in various compositions and colors. They are usually dark red with a texture that is similar to pomegranate seeds. When worn on the right occasion with the proper outfit, these gems can truly be magnificent.

Garnet Origins

This gemstone is an ancient one, having been worn since the earliest civilizations. It has often been used as a talisman, and was believed by the ancients to contain tremendous energy and powers of healing. Records indicate that they were worn in Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, and during medieval times it was considered a symbol of faith and truth, with the Crusaders using it against their foes. There are six species of garnet which are recognized, and the stones are prized for their refractive index and brilliance.

Most of the stones you’ll come across while shopping for them are almandines, which are the most famous. They will appear red, orange/red or reddish brown. They closely resemble pyrope but will not be as vivid. Another popular variant is grossularite, which is a garnet that can appear yellow or green, and the most lustrous garnet of all is the andradite, which resembles a green emerald.

How To Select A Garnet

Jewelers evaluate both garnets and other gems based on the four Cs, which are clarity, carat, cut and color. While garnets often appear in darker red, they may also appear in green and are capable of shifting colors, appearing as pink or purple when seen beneath incandescent light. The cut used for garnets are typically standardized, which makes them easier to set in jewelry.

The clarity of this gem is determined by its variety. These stones tend to be clean, which means they are quite transparent and will display a luster which is glassy. Variations such as almandine or pyrope will not have inclusions which are visible to the eyes. They come in numerous carats, and the rarest variants, such as tsavorite or demantoid are usually small so their value grows with their carat size.

How To Wear Garnet

Garnets work best when they are set in jewelry which is minimalist. They often appear in pendants and earrings which are worn in the form of studs or a piece which dangles from the ear. The garnet bracelet is also popular, as it provides a classic look which gives the wearer a bit of color without overdoing it. But perhaps the most popular way of wearing a garnet is in the form of a cocktail ring. These rings are guaranteed to attract attention due to their striking red hue, especially when one moves or uses their hand. The best metal to pair garnets with is silver, followed by gold. However, garnets are not recommended for engagement rings since the stone is soft compared to diamonds and other gems and therefore may be damaged or scratched easily.