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Types of Garnet - Gemstone and Crystal Facts

Updated on June 3, 2012
Garnet gemstones
Garnet gemstones

History & Colors

Garnet is a fiery and beautiful stone that is typically noted for its dark red color. It was known many thousand years before our era and is also mentioned in early biblical writings, where the stone is called ‘carbunculus’ which mean ‘little spark’. Garnets are also found in jewelry from early Greek, Egyptian and Roman times. In fact, for hundred of years, this red garnet has been mistaken for the more valuable and precious ruby. Today the stones are used as abrasives.

Garnet occurs in almost every color except blue and most varieties of the stone are named for their color. The colors of garnet includes red, yellow, orange, blue, green, brown, purple, colorless and even black. All garnet varieties belong to a silicate group of minerals, they share similar crystal structures and chemical compositions. Different chemical compositions create different physical properties including hardness, color and luster.

Hardness & Characteristics

Garnet ranges from a 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and they are found in Myanmar (Burma), South Africa, United States (Arizona), Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Tanzania, Switzerland and Scotland. Garnet formed when high pressure and/or temperature is a factor and many geologists often use these stones as a gauge of the amount of pressure and temperature that was present during their formation.

Some varieties of garnet have color-changing properties. They exhibit a "alexandrite-like" effect when they are viewed in artificial lighting or in natural light. Six main garnet types are used for gemstones: grossularite (varieties of which are hessonite or cinnamon-stone and tsavorite), almandine, andradite, pyrope, uvarovite and spessartine. Blue garnet is the rarest, it was discovered in the late 1990s in Bekily. It is also found in some parts of the Russia, Turkey and United States. Though garnet is relatively durable, the gem is susceptible to scratches and chips. Garnet gemstones may be cleaned with a soft cloth and warm water and should be stored in cloth-lined boxes.

Its Healing and Magical Properties

The name of the stone comes from Latin ‘granatus’ meaning ‘seed like’. Garnet is believed to have positive powers and those include healing, strength and protection. The stone is often used to relieve inflammations of the skin, aid in curing depression, regulate the heart and blood flow, regenerates DNA, protect against poison and treats spinal and cellular disorders. It symbolizes faith, truth, constancy, love, health and femininity. Garnet is also a stone of passion and used to enhance sensuality, intimacy and sexuality.

It is no wonder this beautiful red gem has remained important and popular for so long. During the Roman times, garnet was traded heavily in Carthage (Tunisia). Garnets were the most common gemstones used in ancient Roman artwork and jewelry. Many early travelers and explorers liked to carry this gem with them. Garnet was popular as a talisman, it was believed to light up the dark night and protect its wearer from disaster and evil.

In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers adopted garnet gemstone as the official birthstone for January. It is also the stone for the Zodiac sign Aquarius.


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    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 5 years ago from South of France

      I had no idea garnets came in different colours - interesting hub, thanks! (Voted up and interesting.)