When Did Garnets Become Popular?
Garnets have been popular for thousands of years. The name garnet comes from the Latin word granatum, which means grain or seed, much like the deep red seeds of a pomegranate that the gemstone resembles. Red garnet necklaces adorned the pharaohs of Egypt and ancient Romans even used carved garnets as seals to protect important documents. In the Middle Ages, people used the stone to cure depression. Some groups viewed the stones as a talisman against evil, disaster, wounds, poisons, and bad dreams.
In terms of fine jewelry, garnets first became popular in Europe before becoming popular in the U.S. Today garnets are popular because they're a durable stone that's available in a variety of colors in addition to the deep, red hue that it's best known for.
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Famous People Who Have Worn Garnet Jewelry
One of the most famous pieces of garnet jewelry in the world is an antique pyrope tiara from the Victorian era. The tiara sits on display in The Smithsonian showcasing the fiery color and fierce brilliance of the gemstone.
Before marrying her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Kate was gifted a garnet (her birthstone) ring that featured pearls, her husband's birthstone. The ring represented Prince William's commitment to Kate.
In addition, both Kristen Bell and Sofía Vergara have been snapped on the red carpet wearing dangling garnet earrings.
Garnet Cost Factors
Garnets are well-known for their rich, saturated red color, but there are other factors (and garnet colors) that impact this stone's cost.
Like other gemstones, factors impact its quality, such as its type, carat weight, color and clarity, cut. A 1-carat garnet with inclusions could cost around $500 while a cleaner garnet with a more rare color could cost between $2,000 and $7,000 per carat. Let's discuss each of these factors and how they impact garnet's cost.
Type of Garnet
People might not know that there are two groups of garnets: garnets of calcium and garnets of magnesium. Within these two groups, there are six different types: almandine, pyrope, spessartite, grossular, andradite, and uvarovite. Each of these garnet types is known for having a unique color.
- Almandine: This type of garnet has aluminum silicate to give it a deep red color with a tint of violet.
- Pyrope: This type of garnet is abundant and occurs in colors ranging from purplish-red to dark, blood-red. It's a magnesium or calcium aluminum silicate, and it's fairly inexpensive because it's more common than other garnet types.
- Rhodolite: This well-known garnet is a rose-red or purple-red hue. It's often free from flaws and inclusions to the naked eye.
- Spessartite: This type of garnet has varying colors that range from fiery orange to reddish-brown that looks like cinnamon.
- Demantoid: This light-green garnet is known for its intense color, beautiful brilliance, and for being rare. It's one of the most valuable and stunning garnets, and comes from the mineral andradite. A unique aspect of demantoid garnets is that they could have inclusions, like a natural diamond.
- Grossularite: This type of garnet is a blend of aluminum and calcium, and has three subcategories:
- Tsavorite: A valuable type of garnet with a green or an emerald green hue
- Hydrogrossular: Opaque and greenish
- Leuco: A colorless version of this type
You'll find these beautiful gemstones in various weights and sizes. Some types of garnets are large in size but still affordable. The more rare garnets, like demantoid and tsavorite, are typically found in smaller sizes, so their value goes up significantly with size.
Almandine garnets are generally found in larger sizes, so there is not a huge rise in value as size increases.
Color and Clarity
A garnet's color is an important factor. The reddish hue is the most popular and abundant. However, you can find stones available in other colors (orange, brown, yellow, pink, green, blue, and colorless). Peach, green, colorless, and blue are rare.
While demantoid and tsavorite garnets are both rare and green, they're different varieties. Tsavorite is a grossularite garnet and demantoid is an andradite garnet.
Typical garnet clarity depends on its type. For example, the red garnets (almandine, pyrope, and rhodolite) typically do not have eye-visible inclusions. It's common for some types of orange garnets (like spessartine and hessonite) to have inclusions seen by the naked eye.
Many garnets are cut into standard shapes and sizes to allow easy setting into jewelry. They’re a tough stone (about 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale) so you’ll see cuts of all types. A well-cut garnet will display dozens of symmetrical facets, and will also minimize inclusions. Rare and expensive garnets, like tsavorite and demantoid, get cut into different shapes to retain the most carat weight as possible.
Garnets are one of the most appealing gemstones known for their hue and luster. In addition to their beauty, these stones are popular for their durability and hardness. On the Mohs scale, this gemstone scores 6.5 to 7.5. They’re also an affordable choice, so you can get a high-quality garnet at a reasonable price. If you happen to have a loved one with a January birthday, garnet is their birthstone and a garnet ring would make an amazing gift.
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