What is Garnet
Garnet might not anymore be a new name to everyone. Yes, it is one of the most famous natural gemstones, whose distribution has reached at an undeniably global scale. Red is probably the color we normally associate with the word ‘Garnet,’ and we have to admit that that fact alone is what makes the stone something to look forward to. Maybe because we have heard it during our friend’s or a celebrity’s engagement newscoop, or maybe because red gemstones are truly very regal and exquisite that it is almost impossible to not desire it.
Well, if we thought Garnet is color red, we are not wrong. But there are more interesting facts we need to know about the stone than it being red in color. For one, Garnet does not strictly only come in red saturation - and yes, you read it right! Hailed as one of the most colorful natural gemstones, Garnet is available in almost all colors of the (color) spectrum; with blue as the rarest.
Even during the ancient times, thousands of years ago, Garnet has already made its name. The stone was considered a prized possession of the clergy, nobility, kings, and lords. In fact, in ancient Egypt, Garnet adorned the necks of pharaohs - or the hailed Egyptian king - and were even entombed with the kings’ mummified bodies. In ancient Rome, the stone was carved into stamps and seals of highly important and confidential documents.
Before it got its official name, Garnet was used to be called ‘carbuncle.’ The word was, at some point, used to refer to red Garnet specimens in the old days, but it generally meant and referred to all red-colored stones. It is believed that the ‘carbuncle’ was one of the four most precious stones entrusted by God to King Solomon.
There are many lores that tell of Garnet’s colorful history, aside from its being once referred to as carbuncle. Garnet derived its name from the Latin word ‘granatum’ or ‘granatas.’ This means ‘seed-like’ or ‘seeds,’ and was associated with the stone’s seed-like quality, especially of pomegranate because of their color resemblance. Because of this, the stone was very famous in old Spain, when pomegranate was also among the most sought after fruit. In the old Greek era, Garnet was called ‘nuktalopos,’ which means ‘lamp stone.’ This was because the stone was believed to give its wearer the ability to see in the dark.
Bohemia, now a part of Czechoslovakia, is also said to be one with the most abundant supplies of Garnet in the world.
Garnet Geographical Sources
Garnet stones are usually formed from igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, which is why, unlike other semi-precious stones with limited distribution, it can be found almost anywhere in the world. The most common specimen of this stone is formed when a sedimentary rock that has high aluminum content is subjected to heat, enough to produce a ‘gneiss’ or ‘schist.’ A gneiss is “a metamorphic rock with a banded or foliated structure, typically coarse-grained and consisting mainly of feldspar, quartz, and mica.”
Garnet can also be found in subsurface magma chambers, deep-source volcanic eruptions, lava flows, rocks of contact metamorphism, and some sediments from erosions containing Garnet crystals.
Geographically, finding natural Garnet is not hard as there have been notable deposits and supply of the stone worldwide. These deposits are recorded in Canada, Russia, Tanzania, the United States, Madagascar, Kenya and Germany. Notable natural occurences of the stone are also recorded in India, Pakistan, Alaska, Greenland, Sri Lanka and Mozambique.
Garnet Physical Properties
Aside from its popularly known color, red, Garnet has other physical properties that set it apart from other gemstones.
A Garnet stone exhibits glassy or highly vitreous luster. It can be highly transparent to translucent, with little to no (white) streaks and no significant cleavage. The most known color of the stone is brilliant red to deep red, but - as mentioned earlier - it can also come in different other colors; orange, yellow, brown, green, purple and the like, with blue as the rarest specimen. This stone has a cubic crystal system, with usually Trapezohedral, Dodecahedral, and euhedral to subhedral crystal habits.
With hardness scores playing from 6.5 to 7.5 in the Mohs scale, Garnet is relatively hard which makes it very suitable for use as material in making designer jewelries and body embellishments.
These optical properties are what also make Garnet a valuable and desirable crystal in the market, especially in the jewelry industry. Not only are jewelries made from this stone durable. They are also undeniably splendid.
Varieties of Garnet
There are several varieties of the Garnet stone, which help in identifying what type it is that you are dealing with when you see one. Basically, there are quite a few varieties included, but they can just be classified into two major classifications - the reddish ones, and the non-reddish Garnet stones.
The reddish Garnet stone varieties are generally called the ‘pyralspites.’ This is the abbreviation of the three main reddish Garnet varieties, pyrope, almandine & spessartine. These reddish specimens of the stone include pink, purple and red tones.
Non-reddish specimens of Garnet are abbreviated as ‘ugrandites.’ They are those which exhibit colors like green, black, and brown. These varieties include uvarovite, grossular, and andradite.
Garnet Metaphysical Properties & Meaning
Since the ancient epoch, Garnet has been associated with quite a number of good metaphysical properties - from being a ‘shield’ or protection, to being a source of good luck. In the modern time, this stone has also been associated with several beneficial metaphysical properties.
Stone of Success. It is believed that Garnet is a stone that brings success. It fuels one’s motivation and drive to reach for his / her dreams and goals in life. In women, it is said to help them develop their executive skills which are very essential to putting up successful business ventures.
Love & courage. As its most common color - red - suggests, Garnet is both a stone of courage and love. It has the ability to nurture one’s courage to take on challenges, while not losing compassion and genuine care for others around him / her.
Transformation. Garnet is also believed to be a stone for productive transformation. It has the ability to increase one’s body movement and vibrations, in order to break stagnant energies that have been sitting and kept inside one’s self for a long time. Once these stagnant energies are broken, the stone awakens the good energies that would push its wearer to become the person he / she has long wanted to be.
Passion. Passion is something that drives love into a higher state, and it is what Garnet is also beneficial for. According to experts, Garnet has the ability to nurture one’s passion for another person. It increases a person’s attraction towards another, as well as the libido to harness healthy sexual energies. The stone ignites one’s inherent sexual prowess in order for him / her to be more confident in his / her natural sexual abilities.
Creativity. Garnet helps in enhancing one’s creativity and artistry. It allows one to express him / herself freely through images, melodies, words, ideas and more, through stimulating the brain to think creative thoughts and come up with one’s own original piece.
Garnet is all in all a stone that represents strength and affection. In the modern days, it is a stone that is used to symbolize the second year of marriage where love and intimacy are essential. It is also considered the birthstone for January.
Garnet Physical Healing Properties
There have also been a number of physical healing properties Garnet is believed to possess. It is said that this stone is good for regulating the circulation of blood in the body; thus leaving a healthy and good heart. This crystal is also believed to alleviate pain caused by rheumatism.
The stone is also believed to revive one’s strength and vigor through aiding in cell regeneration. It is also said to relieve many skin problems, promotes hormonal balance and good metabolism, and aids in a healthy reproductive system. Garnet is also believed to aid in attaining an overall good lung condition.
Garnet as a Gem and Jewelry Material
Because of Garnet’s undeniable beauty, it has become one of the most popular gemstones in the world. Its glassy luster makes it very good for making polished cabochons and beads, and it also has a kind of attractive sparkle that shows off especially when it is cut into faceted loose stones.
Garnet’s durability also makes it an interesting material for making specially designed and carved crystal for use as necklace pendants and/or bracelet beads. Because of the stone’s natural hardness, jewelries made from it can withstand certain agents that may cause severe or even permanent damage to its brittle stone counterparts.
Jewelries made of Garnet stones are safe with ultrasonic, steam and soapy water cleaning unlike other stones. They also have stable light and heat sensitivity. However, like other gemstones, Garnets should not be exposed to chemicals that may have a very strong destabilizing effect on the stone, like ammonia and other harmful chemical solutions.
Garnet is definitely a good addition to one’s jewelry collection. Apart from its innate beauty that would not need any synthetic intervention in order to be enhanced and come out attractive, any jewelry piece made of this stone is bound to last long - given it is also properly taken care of - because it is durable.This type of gemstone is also easily accessible worldwide as supplies of such are available almost anywhere in the globe. Because of this, as well, Garnet stones can be purchased at relatively lower prices compared to other crystals with limited supply.
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