word garnet comes from the latin word granatus.
How this came about was because the crystals embedded in rock
had the color and shape of pomegranite seeds.
those of you born in January, your birthstone comes in a dazzling
array of colors. From the greenest of limes to the reddest of
grapes, garnets offer so many possibilities to coordinate with
hair and skin tones and fashions of every variety. Rubellite garnets,
which come in the richest, dark red are often mistaken for rubies.
Noah used purple garnets to light his Arc, according to legend.
The rare and brilliant, green, Tsavorite garnets enthralled the
Tsars of Russia for centuries.
is safe to clean garnets with an ultrasonic cleaner.
garnets are divided into two series:
The Pyralspite Series which consists of pyrope, almandine
The Ugrandite Series which consists of uvarovite, grossular,
come in all colors-brown, green, purple, red, orange and shades
of all, some common-some rare.
of deep red, violet-red and black come from Arizona in America,
South America, Ceylon, India, and Australia.
dark green, cinnamon, brownish yellow, and jade green garnets
come from Switzerland, Ceylon, and South Africa. Bright apple
green garnets (called Saverite) come from Russia and Finland.
is said that King Solomon wore a large red garnet along with eleven
other magical gems (representing the 12 steps of Jacob's Ladder)
in his breast plate to help him win battles and to keep him in
touch with the deity.
the 13th century, they were worn to repel insects and evil spirits
and the evil eye of others.
Egyptian times they were taken into the tombs with the dead as
payment to the gods of the nether worlds and for their passage
through the nether world safely.
brown colors you see in department stores are inexpensive and
come from India, South America, Russia, And North America.
Gem for all Seasons
oranges of autumn leaves, the glowing red coals of a winter fire,
the sparkling green of a summer field, and the beautiful pinks
and of spring flowers, garnet is a gemstone for all seasons. Garnets
are a closely related group of gemstones that are available in
every color. Dark reds, tangerine orange, vivid lime green, soft
bluish-pink, garnet is all these colors and more.
are garnets that change color in different light, translucent
green garnets that look like jade, garnets with stars, garnets
that have been mined for thousands of years and garnets that were
just discovered in the last decade.
have long been carried by travelers to protect against accidents
far from home. In ancient Asia and the American Southwest, garnets
were used as bullets because the glowing red color was said to
increase the ferocity of a wound. Garnets in legend light up the
night and protect their owners from nightmares. Noah used a garnet
lantern to navigate the Ark at night. The ancient world is full
of praise for the carbuncle, the glowing red coal of a gemstone
we now know as garnet.
name garnet probably comes from pomegranate. Many ancient pieces
of garnet jewelry are studded with tiny red stones that do look
a lot like a cluster of pomegranate seeds! Jewelry set with garnets
from Czechoslovakia was extremely popular in the nineteenth century
and Bohemian garnet jewelry is still popular today, although today
the garnets are mined elsewhere. When you say garnet, most people
think automatically of small dark red gemstones, even though this
is only one aspect of the world of garnets.
is the birthstone for January, which means that January babies
have a lot of choices! Varieties available, some mineral differences
and some color descriptions, include rhodolite, malaya, demantoid,
grossular, hessonite, spessartite, hessonite, almandine, mandarin,
and combinations between these varieties.
of the most popular is rhodolite garnet,which ranges from pink
to purplish red in color and is mined in Africa, India, and Sri
Lanka. Tsavorite garnet is a bright yellow green to grass
green, and is mined in Tanzania and Kenya. Legendary Demantoid
garnet combines a bright green with dazzling brilliance that won
over the Tsars of Russia, who used it lavishly. In the past, demantoid
garnet was only ever available in small sizes and was extremely
rare, but a new deposit was found in 1998 in Namibia, southern
Africa. However, it is still quite rare today.
garnet, another popular mixed variety, ranges from orange to gold
and is mined in Tanzania and Kenya. Pyrope garnet is a very saturated
red: beautiful small pyrope garnets found in Arizona are called
anthill garnet because they are mined by ants, who carry them
up when they are excavating their anthills.
garnet growing in popularity is a newly discovered garnet from
Namibia, which is a bright orange spessartite, is called mandarin
garnet because its color is a true orange. Hessonite and Spessarite
garnets mostly come in golds and oranges and browns that are sometimes
called cinnamon garnets. Grossular, the variety of garnets that
gives us tsavorite, also is available in pale pinks and greens
are fairly hard and durable gemstones that are ideal for jewelry
use, except for demantoid, which is softer and requires more protection.
When Garnet is Green
gemstone discoveries in East Africa in the 1960s transformed the
jewelry world: new varieties, new colors, and new variations on
existing species made that decade the most exciting time in the
gemstone industry in our lifetimes.
chain of discoveries was breathtaking: raspberry-red rhodolite
garnet, a rainbow of fancy sapphire, rich red ruby, grass-green
chrome tourmaline, the sunset hues of malaya garnet, and velvety-blue
tanzanite. The grand finale was the discovery in 1968 in Tanzania
of a magnificent brilliant green grossular garnet. The beautiful
green garnet was also discovered on the Kenya side of the border
in 1971, in the Taita Taveta district. In 1974, the new gem was
named "Tsavorite," after the famous Tsavo National Park
game preserve in Kenya by Tiffany & Co in New York, who introduced
the gemstone to the world market.
has a beautiful vivid green color, is bright and lively with a
high refractive index, and has a garnet's durability and high
comes from the East African bush: all the mines currently producing
are in an arid grassy area with bare dry hills that runs across
the border from Kenya to Tanzania. This area is home to snakes
and an occasional lion.
of millions of years ago, this land was covered by the ocean.
Layers of organic sediment were deposited, eventually forming
shale. Then the land was subjected to intense heat and pressure,
folding and uplifting, metamorphically changing the ocean floor
into new minerals. This twisting and torturing of the rocks gave
birth to the unusual gemstones of East Africa, many colored by
the vanadium which is plentiful in these rocks because of their
organic history in the ocean floor.
geology which produces tsavorite is graphitic gneisses, rich in
calcium from the seams of marble which lace through them. Tsavorite
is often found in pods with a coating of quartz or scapolite,
which the miners call potatoes. The green color is most often
due to vanadium from the host rock but some tsavorite is also
colored by chromium.
heat and folding of the rock hundreds of millions of years ago
which formed tsavorite also shattered most of the crystals. It
is very rare to find tsavorite in sizes larger than five carats,
and most faceted stones are below two carats. Many deposits of
tsavorite are small and unpredictable: seams suddenly narrow and
disappear, giving no indication where to look next.
have been perhaps 40 different areas where tsavorite has been
mined but only four mining ventures are still producing in commercial
Scorpion Mine in southeast Kenya is now producing from tunnels
sunk on an incline for more than 200 feet. The other major producer
in this area has a large open-cast operation to a depth of 40
feet which has yielded a considerable quantity of tsavorite. Unfortunately,
the owners are unable to continue mining by this method and are
beginning to introduce underground mining.
year a new tsavorite-producing area was discovered in Lokirima,
about a thousand kilometers northwest of the previously known
localities. Although this locality is only producing a small quantity,
it is promising that the possibility of finding tsavorite exists
over a wider area than previously thought.
Rare is Too Rare?
is cut mostly in Tanzania, Kenya and in Idar-Oberstein. Idar is
known for innovative cutting and tsavorite is no exception. The
cutting industry in Kenya has also started to offer fancy shapes
and a larger range of sizes is available.
rarity, as well as its beautiful green color, call to mind the
queen of the garnet family: Demantoid garnet, which was discovered
in Russia's Ural Mountains in 1868. Demantoid was also available
mostly in small sizes. Mining of this beautiful, brilliant green
garnet lasted only about 30 years and the only source for top
quality stones today is antique jewelry.
the association with demantoid has hurt tsavorite: The rarity
of the stone has led jewelers around the world to treat tsavorite
as a specialty item, like alexandrite.
of the tsavorite miners in Kenya has begun a promotional program
in conjunction with a dealer in Idar-Oberstein to try to convince
jewelers that, in small sizes, tsavorite is reliably available
as a durable and attractive green gemstone. The dealer is offering
calibrated and fancy-cut tsavorite in unusual shapes as well as
a line of tsavorite jewelry with tapered tsavorite baguettes and
other surprising uses of tsavorite.
campaign may be starting to work: Tsavorite has also begun to
appear in magnificent invisibly-set jewelry, where its durability
and clarity are a distinct advantage.
tsavorite still needs to break out of a cycle of lack of demand
caused by lack of supply. There is potential for mining tsavorite
in other areas of Kenya but development of new mining areas, which
requires investment in machinery and high operating costs, is
unlikely until demand rises. And demand hasn't started to rise
because the supply is too limited.
the beauty of tsavorite is bound to win over consumers. All they
need is to see tsavorite to appreciate its appeal. The recent
widening of the market for tanzanite, which came through an increase
in the supply available, may convince more retail jewelers to
take a chance on tsavorite. Once given this chance, East Africa's
beautiful green garnet will surely find its proper place in the