History of the Garnet

January’s birthstone, garnet, which acquired it’s named during ancient times due to its likeness to pomegranate seeds, is found in nature in a wide variety of colors and in multiple hues of the same color. The majority of garnet varieties can be classified as one or a mixture of five types:

Almandine, the most common type, is dark red to brownish-red. Pyrope is a deep, vivid red. A blend of Pyrope and Almandine is Rhodolite, a light to dark pink to purplish red. Andradite comes in yellow, green or brown, and is known as Demantoid when emerald in color. Emerald green Demantoid from Russia demands very high per carat prices and is arguably the most valuable garnet. Grossular garnet comes in yellow, orange and brown, and is known as Tsavorite when green and Hessonite when cinnamon colored.  Green Tsavorite, named for Tsavo in the Umba River Valley in Kenya commands high prices. An attractive blue-green, minty colored, new find of Grossular garnet from the Merelani mine in Arusha, Tanzania is sold under the trade name Merelani Mint. Spessartine comes in shades of reddish-brown to yellowish-orange. Beautiful Spessartines are sold under the trade names “Mandarin Garnet” for the saturated orange garnets, and “Malaia” (from the Swahili) for the reddish orange garnets.

Garnet Color Gemstones

Certain garnets show phenomena such as asterism, chatoyancy and even iridescence (the flashes of color similar to opal).  Some garnets change color, from red to green depending on the ambient light source. Iridescent garnets are fast rising in popularity and show flashes of color in the same crystal.

Major sources of garnets include Australia, Canada, Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They have a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale and are perfect for all types of jewelry, including rings. Garnets are typically not enhanced for color, and can be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a brush. Most garnets can be cleaned in an Ultrasonic, except for Andradite garnet (Demantoid). Steam cleaning is not recommended.

Garnet Fine Color Gemstone Jewelry by Mark Schneider Design

Come in and view our superb loose garnets and garnet jewelry. We also have unusual iridescent garnets waiting to be set in a one of a kind, custom piece for you. 


The Gemstones Handbook, Arthur Thomas, 2008, published by Fall River Press, New York

Gemstones, Understanding, Identifying and Buying, Keith Wallis FGA, 2007 published by Antique Collector’ Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, United Kingdom.

AGTA, American Gem Trade Association, various promotional materials,2009, www.addmorecolortoyourlife.com