"The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word “Garanatus,” meaning “seedlike,” in reference to a pomegranate."
The seed-like reference makes sense as small garnets look like the bright red seeds you find inside in a pomegranate. However, modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues. Red garnets have a long history, but not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones.
is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistry and conditions to form. Garnets are a set of closely related minerals that form a group, resulting in gemstones in almost every color. All garnets have essentially the same crystal structure, but they vary in chemical composition. There are more than twenty garnet categories, called species, but only five are commercially important as gems.
Thousands of years ago, red garnet necklaces adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs and were entombed with their mummified corpses as prized possessions for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents.The term carbuncle was often used in ancient times to refer to red garnets, although it was used for almost any red stone. Carbuncle was thought to be one of the four precious stones given to King Solomon by God.Centuries later, in Roman scholar Pliny’s time (23 to 79 AD), red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 AD), red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility. Red garnet’s availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in central Europe around 1500. This source became the nucleus of a regional jewelry industry that reached its peak in the late 1800s.
Photos Courtesy of GIA