The Garnet is the January birthstone that is derived from the Latin word granatus, meaning like a grain, which refers to the mode of occurrence wherein crystals resemble grains or seeds embedded in the matrix. It is also the gem that is used for the 2nd and 6th wedding anniversaries. Garnet is a family of minerals having similar physical and crystalline properties.
There are a number of names for garnet; most of these names are for particular colors.
Almandite – red, orange-red with brown, purple-red
Andradite – black, green, yellow
Demantoid – green, yellow-green
Grossularite – brown, green, orange-yellow, white, yellow
Hessonite – range of orange to brown
Malaya – orange, red-orange, yellow-orange
Melanite – black
Pyrope – red, orange-red, purple-red; all quite dark
Rhodolite – purple, red-purple
Spessarite – orange-brown, red-orange, yellow, yellow-brown
Mandarin – vibrant orange
Tsavorite – bright, dark green
Uvarovite – range of greens
All colors of garnets have been used as gemstones. Garnets display the greatest variety of color of any mineral, except the color blue. The popular understanding of garnet is as an inexpensive dark red stone. Because it is relatively common and inexpensive, it is often thought of as “only garnet”, and as being inferior. Pure crystals of garnet are used as gemstones.
Garnets range from a 7.0 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and are found in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia produce fine gem quality garnets and also for industrial garnets. Industrial garnet is used to coat sandpaper of more than 110,000 tons per year. Garnets can also be found in South Africa, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Myanmar (Burma), Scotland, Switzerland and Tanzania.
Alaska is known for their deep red garnets that are near perfect crystalline form. Arizona is one of the fife states that has a commercial production of gem garnets. Stones as large as five carats have been found here. California is popular for its white to pale green colored garnets. Idaho’s deposits also are the only ones in the world, besides India, that produces significant amounts of star garnets. U.S. production of gem-grade garnet will continue to increase and additional deposits will be brought into production in the coming years.
Garnet is said to symbolize happiness and deep, enduring friendships and to spark creativity. It is believed to rid the body of negative energy and emotions. Garnet is thought to stimulate the desire and fortitude that it takes to connect to decisions. They also are said to strengthen willpower and increase self-esteem and popularity.
Garnets are also said to help in the treatment of infectious diseases, blood poisoning, and heart & lung diseases.
Throughout the ages, Garnet has always been noted for its deep, rich color. Ancient legends state that Garnet could never be hidden, that even under clothing; its glowing light would shine forth. Jewelry from Egypt dating back as far as 3100 B.C. contained garnet stones. It was believed garnet would protect its wearer from enemies and could illuminate the darkness. Noah reportedly used a garnet lantern to illuminate the ark and guide it safely through the darkness of night.
Because the gem is commonly blood red, it was believed during the Middle Ages, that garnets could protect European knights against wounds and even bring the wearer a military victory. Common people thought that the gem had medicinal purposes. Native American tribes used garnet jewelry and decorated their shields and dream catchers with the gems because of the medicinal beliefs. Medieval garnets were also hailed as being able to cure depression, keep bad dreams at bay, and relieve fevers, and stop bleeding and much more. In Japan and China, the garnet was used to make bullets as it was believed that the gem could inflict more damage on an intended victim. These bullets were used up until the end of the nineteenth century. For centuries garnets were carried by travelers to protect them from accidents. Ancient Persians considered it a “royal stone” and carved it with images of their kings. In Arizona, tiny granules of this gemstone are called anthill garnets because ants push it to the surface while building their tunnels.
According to legend, east Indians rubbed garnet on themselves to obtain glowing qualities. The stone’s ability to reveal that which is hidden may be the reason why Garnet was once thought to illuminate the mind so it could see back to past incarnations.
The following properties are attributed to some of the specific garnet varieties:
Almandine is said to be particularly useful for strengthening the heart, to inspire love and to perceive truth. Andradite is said to give vitality and to help prevent fears, insecurity, and feelings of loneliness. Pyrope is said to enhance understanding and wisdom. Rhodolite is said to facilitate meditation and enhance intuition, and to inspire love.
Tsavorite is said to facilitate meditation, and to enhance spiritual awareness and telepathic abilities.
However, today garnet is famous for its use in the industrial workplace. Like I had said earlier it is heavily used as a coat for sandpaper. This is because garnet has a no free silica and hence does not cause dust and silicosis in its industrial applications. Garnet is non toxic and environment friendly. It is also used to make a number of similar products, including sanding belts, discs, and strips. Garnet sand is a good abrasive and a common replacement for silica sand in sand blasting. Mixed with very high pressure water, garnet is used to cut steel and other materials in water jets.
Anyone who loves what is pure and natural and the warm, sun bathed colors of late summer will be fired with enthusiasm by the color spectrum of the garnet. Anyone aquiring garnet jewelry can be assured that the joy he or she derives from this beautiful gemstone gift from nature will be long lasting and undimmed.